Speech Pathology News: Phonological Awareness

The whole class oral language programs are now well underway for the term and the students are developing their oral language skills as they explore the various books and topics of our Literature Based Units (LBUs). We have also begun some tier two programs for some groups of students who need extra support. In our tier two programs we target a specific skill or language area that a group of students may be having difficulty with at a whole class level.

One area that often becomes a target for these groups is Phonological Awareness. Phonological awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in spoken words. It includes being able to break words into syllables (e.g. cat-er-pill-ar), hear words that rhyme (e.g. cat-hat), break words into individual sounds (e.g. plant – p-l-a-n-t) and being able to manipulate these parts (e.g. “say people” “now say it again without the ple or pea” or “say land” “now say it again but instead of /l/ say /s/” (sand).  Good Phonological Awareness provides a strong foundation for learning to read and spell. If children can hear and manipulate sounds in words easily then they can connect and remember the printed symbols for those sounds (letters and letter patterns) more easily and also blend sound together to identify a word when reading and break them apart when spelling.

You can support the development of phonological awareness skills at home by sharing books that have lots of rhyming words (e.g. Dr Seuss) and making up nonsense words that rhyme, tapping out the syllables in longer words as you say them, playing modified I Spy using the first sound in a word rather than the letter name (e.g. I spy with my little eye something beginning with /b/ – bed) and playing games where you make a new word by taking a sound away and saying what is left (i.e. “say sand” “now say it again but don’t say /s/”) or taking a sound away and adding a new one (i.e. “say pod but instead of /d/ say /t/” (pot). Always make these games fun and light hearted and do not force your child to participate, if they are not ready to join in just model it to them.