Phonological Awareness

Essential for learning to read and spell


Phonological Awareness is the ability to consciously ‘tune into’ the sounds in words i.e., the(phonological or sound system of our language.

Even if children can say the sounds, speak clearly, or have excellent hearing…… they might not “hear” the sounds within words and sentences.

Phonological Awareness consists of many of skills that are related to early reading development …..there is a ‘two way’ relationship between Phonological Awareness and learning to read.

At a general level Phonological Awareness involves an awareness that words can –

• be broken up into claps or syllables (hos-pit –al)
• rhyme (can, fan, man)
• start with the same sound (big bear)
• have sounds that can be blended (d-i-sh makes dish)
• be segmented into separate sounds (d-r-i-p)
• be changed or manipulated by removing, adding or reordering sounds within the word to make a different word (slip without the /l/says sip)


There is much research that shows that Phonological Awareness is an important component of early reading success. A child’s level of phonological awareness prior to school is one of the best predictors of their later reading Studies have also shown that training in Phonological Awareness has an impact on reading acquisition. This is particularly so when Phonological Awareness instruction is combined with letters. Much can be done at preschool to provide children with opportunities for developing sound awareness and to prepare them for literacy instruction.

At SpeechNet we can screen phonological awareness skills in the year before prep. If any areas of weakness are found early support to strengthen these skills can be given making your child “reading ready”. Our Pop & Top groups incorporate specific activities to strengthen phonological awareness from an early age. The Pop & Top books are a fun way for children to listen to sounds in words while matching their phonological skills to the written word.

Understanding Rhyme

Rhyme is one of the earliest ways children explore the sounds in words, and as such is critical to other development of phonological awareness.

It appears that many children spontaneously develop an awareness of rhyme before they begin school. There are many reports of children generating their own nonsense rhymes eg “hoppity doppity”. Young children’s literature has many examples of rhyme from which children can derive enjoyment. Nursery rhymes and singing games all contribute to children’s emerging understanding of how words are constructed from sounds.

The literature suggests that rhyme is often the first component of phonological awareness, which takes children beyond understanding the meaning of words in our language to the realisation that the fundamental component of language is sounds.