Perhaps you have heard me mention the term phonemic awareness in a conversation we've had or in a newsletter I've posted. To clear up any misunderstanding about what phonemic awareness is and how is it different from phonics I'd like to address phonemic awareness in this blog, and phonics in my next blog. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate the sounds of language. It is a critical skill because phonemic awareness is a precursor to learning to read in the early grades. So when a child hears the word CAT and I ask what sounds do they hear, a child with strong phonemic awareness will be able to break down the individual phonemes and tell me they hear /k/ /a/ /t/. Of course, this is an example of early phonemic awareness, and as a child becomes more proficient at hearing the sounds in simple words, we move on to practicing manipulating sounds in words. So when I ask a child to replace the /k/ in CAT with a /b/ sound, a child with adequate phonemic awareness skills will be able to tell me the new word is BAT. More complicated phonemic awareness activities involve manipulating phonemes, substituting phonemes and deleting phonemes from words. When you play word games involving any of the above activities or read any children's book that involves rhyming (think Dr. Seuss books!) you are helping your child to hear the sounds in words and assisting them in learning how to read. What a great foundation for early literacy!!
Next time: What is Phonics?