A child or adult who is phonologically aware has developed the ability to consciously tune in to the sounds of spoken language, to understand them and to talk about them.
For example, a three-year-old whose phonological awareness is developing might say something like: "Hey, cat-bat: they sound the same!"
To which you might reply "Hey, they do, don't they? They both have an 'at' sound in them. Cat-bat, bat-cat!"
But stay with me for a bit because, although it seems complicated, there's really only one thing we parents really need to know.
Phonological awareness develops naturally if you:
Why It's Important
Phonological awareness is an important and reliable predictor of a child's later reading ability.
On the other hand, kids whose phonological skills are well-developed during the pre-school years often learn to read quickly and easily, sometimes before they start school.
In fact, they often learn to read quite naturally, with little in the way of formal teaching.
Sounds amazing, doesn't it? Yet, I've seen this happen with quite a few children over the years, including my own three children and my four nephews.
Phonological Awareness and Reading
Phonological awareness is one of the building blocks of learning to read.
The other two building blocks are a
Luckily, human beings seem to be naturally drawn to language which features rhyme, repetition and an interesting rhythm.
You can see this quite clearly when you read a poem or rhyme to a child. Even very young babies are usually entranced.
Here are the main things to be aware of:
Center, Y. (2005). Beginning Reading. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.
Emmitt, M; Zbaracki, M; Komesaroff, L. & Pollock, J. (2010). Language & Learning. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
Mayer, R.E. (2001). What Good is Educational Psychology? The Case of Cognition and Instruction, Educational Psychologist, Vol. 36(2), 83–88.
Books to Stimulate Phonological Awareness
Rhyme, rhythm and repetition are great stimulators of phonological awareness.
Luckily babies and young children LOVE poems and rhyme and there are some great books which are written in rhyme.
The ones below were my children's and nephews' absolute favourites!