April 16, 2011

Every Child Ready to Read: Phonological Awareness for 4 & 5-Year-Olds

Phonological Awareness is the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words. Being able to hear the beginning and ending sounds that make up words will help children sound out words when they begin to read. This helps children break the code between written language (letters) and spoken language (sounds).

Most children who have difficulty reading have trouble with phonological awareness, so it’s important to help your child develop this skill so he is ready to learn to read when she begins school.

Phonological Awareness includes:

· The ability to say whether or not two words rhyme (cat and bat; dog and cat)

· The ability to say words with sound or word chunks left out (ti-ger without the

ti = ger)

· The ability to put two word chunks together to make a word (tie + ger = tiger)

· The ability to put two word chunks together to make a word (tie + ger = tiger)

· The ability to say one-syllable words without the first sound (bat – buh = at)

You can help teach your child this important early literacy skill:

· Sing and say nursery rhymes and sing songs. Repeat rhymes, say tongue twisters and play word games. Hearing words that rhyme helps your child learn that words are made up of smaller parts. Most songs have a different note for each syllable. This helps children break down words into separate parts.

· Play the Say It Slow, Say It Fast Game.

o Choose pictures of objects with 2 or 3 syllables. Cut the pictures out of magazines or make them out of playdough. Make 2 or 3 piece puzzles out of each word, depending on the number of syllables it has. For example, find a picture of a monkey and cut it in half.

o Now play the game. Show the first half and say, “mon” then show the second half and say, “key.” Ask your child to repeat with you. Say the two syllables slowly, showing the appropriate picture and then put the pieces together and say, “monkey.” Repeat the game, but this time say the syllables more quickly.

o Try mixing up the pieces—“key” “mon” is a silly word, but your child is still hearing the separate syllables.

o Add another picture, for example, a turtle. Repeat the game with the word turtle. Mix up the monkey and turtle pieces and ask your child to put them together again, saying each syllable that the puzzle piece represents.

o Keep it fun—as soon as your child grows tired or frustrated, stop and move on to something else.

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