Phonological Processing

Phonological Awareness includes a broad set of skills that identify and manipulate sounds in oral language. Because no print or text is involved, you can think of phonological awareness as a pre-reading skill.

To teach Phonological Awareness, children must be introduced to the idea of Phonemes. Phonemes are the basic units of sound a language makes. While we have 26 letters of the American alphabet, we have about 44 phonemic sounds that we use to create hundreds of thousands of words.

Basic Phonological Awareness Skills Include:

  • Rhyming words
    What rhymes with whale: tail or tack?
  • Categorization
    Which word does not belong: bus, bun, rug?
  • Blending
    What word is /d/ /a/ /d/?
  • Segmentation
    How many sounds do you hear in “bike”?
  • Identification
    What sound do you hear at the beginning of the word: dig?
  • Deletion
    Listen to this word: mat.: Take away the /m/ sound. What word do you have left?
  • Substitution
    Listen to this word: pen. Take away /e/. Add /a/. What word do you have now?
  • Insertion
    Listen to this word: crack. Add /er/ to the end of crack. What word do you have now?

When teaching Phonological Awareness, keep your activities to no more than 15 minutes per day. You are building a foundation for reading, so you want to take your time to create strong, firmly rooted skills within your child.

The list of Phonological Awareness skills goes from simple to complex. While it’s tempting to jump ahead from Phonemic Identification of initial sounds to Phonemic Substitution of medial sounds, you would actually be skipping a number of critical skills embedded at each level. Generally speaking, each basic skill has three components: Mastering the skill with the word’s initial sound – the final sound – and the medial (or middle) sound.

Remember, Phonological Awareness is an oral language skill. Some reading workbooks will practice Phonological Awareness skills with pictures that help cue a kid into thinking of the name of a word. That can be a fun way for a child to practice independent work. However, once you introduce letters and words, you are making the activity a Phonics lesson.

Last modified on September 27, 2019

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