Define Phonemic Awareness and Understand The Importance

There’s so much that goes into reading. It’s a complex process that’s very scientific. For parents, it can be confusing when you research teaching your child to read. Think about it, all of that terminology that’s thrown around. It can make our head spin, it you don’t know what they mean. So, where do you begin? Why not start at the beginning? My suggestion is to define phonemic awareness and understand its importance.

Define Phonemic Awareness

Define Phonemic AwarenessNow, I know that phonemic awareness is a word that may be unfamiliar to you. It doesn’t come up in everyday conversation. Yet, it plays a vital role in your child’s communication skills. This is because phonemic awareness is one of the fundamental language skills.

Simply, phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate the individual sounds within words. Yes, it is a spoken language skill. Children speak before they read or write. Before your child can read, he or she must be able to understand how sounds work to form words.

There are 44 distinct sounds, phonemes, in the English language that are used to form words. These sounds include letter combinations in addition to the 26 letters of the alphabet. For example, /ch/ in chair is a combination of /c/ and /h/. When you say a specific word, you’re combining individual phonemes.

It’s important to remember that to define phonemic awareness, you have to include the ability to manipulate sounds to make words. Knowing the phonemes isn’t enough. A child has to be able to form words from those sounds. This requires that a child must learn how the sounds can be manipulated.

What It Includes

Basically, phonemic awareness involves 6 basic components: rhyming, isolation, segmentation, deletion, substitution, and blending. Each of these represents a different way in which phonemes can relate to each other. By manipulating the different phonemes, your child learns how the phonemes work together to build words.

In other words, by manipulating the phonemes within a word using even one of these components, your child can create new words. For example, using substitution, your child can turn “bat” into “cat” by substituting the beginning /b/ sound with the /k/ sound. By experimenting with each component, your child will discover word families. Word families are a group of words that share the same pattern.

As your child continues to experiment with manipulating the different phonemes, the number of words that he or she knows will continue to grow. To accomplish this, it will take a conscious effort. Phonemes aren’t obvious and must be taught.

Why It’s Important

Purposefully teaching your child phonemic awareness is important for several reasons. First of all, phonemic awarenessimportance of phonemic awareness lays the foundation for understanding the rules of the English language. Basically, the rules of English set forth how words are used together to convey meaning. And, words are made up of phonemes. Before your child can understand how words work together, he or she must understand how phonemes work together to make words.

Another reason why phonemic awareness is important builds upon the English language rules reason. As our child grows up, he or she moves from spoken English to written English. Phonemic awareness is a key building block to reading skills. Fundamentally, reading is connecting symbols that represent a word to that word.

In other words, reading is decoding symbols. These written symbols represent spoken words. Think about it. When you read something, you hear the words in your head, don’t you? Or, when people read aloud, the words are spoken. That’s because language was first meant to be spoken. So, your child has to make the connection between spoken and written language.

How Phonemic Awareness Helps Your Child

This is how phonemic awareness helps your child. Because a child manipulates sounds through phonemic awareness, it’s a precursor to phonics. Phonics is the system of relationships between letters and the sounds they represent. Phonics is basically breaking the code of the alphabet.

Before your child learns the letters of the alphabet, he or she needs to know the sounds the letters make. Phonemic awareness comes before phonics.

Likewise, phonics comes before reading. Spending time on phonemic awareness with your child sets him or her up for printed words. Learning to read is a step-by-step process.

Studies have shown that children that have difficulty reading early on usually have difficulty with phonemic awareness. In fact, much of the efforts to correct reading problems in the lower grades in school focuses on phonemic awareness. Even more, studies show that students that have experienced solid, intentional phonemic awareness instruction tend to learn to read more easily.

For example, the National Reading Panel determined that the level of phonemic awareness instruction that a child receives will determine that child’s level of success during the first two years of reading instruction. That’s why you need to define phonemic awareness and understand its importance.

Phonemic Awareness is Too Important to Ignore

Because of the importance of phonemic awareness, you shouldn’t neglect to teach your child phonemic awareness. More than that, you shouldn’t wait until your child is school age to begin focusing on phonemes. Most schools begin to teach phonemic awareness is kindergarten or first grade.

child readingThe only problem with that is that your child has already been using spoken words for a few years already. Research shows that children actually begin showing signs of phonemic awareness around age 2. They’ve also seen written words around them. If you wait until your child is in school, you’re missing out on teachable moments.

Since children are already naturally inclined towards phonemic awareness before they enter school, as a parent, you should encourage phonemic awareness at home. And, no you don’t need to be a teacher to do so. There are many simple things you can do to encourage phonemic awareness like rhyming games.


Wanting What’s Best for Your Child

By starting with phonemic awareness earlier, you are giving your child keys to success that will help them later on. As a parent, you want what’s best for your child. Because of this, you should take charge of your child’s education. And not wait for a school to control it.

Education shouldn’t just exist in a classroom. Your child is already learning before he or she goes to school. He or she is learning to manipulate words as he or she is learning to speak. And, as he or she grows in her speaking abilities, he or she is learning phonemic awareness. Why not make it intentional and include phonemic awareness activities?

If you have any questions or comments about phonemic awareness, leave a comment below.

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How Can I Teach My Child to Read

teaching reading at home

As a parent, you want what’s best for your child. You want to give them every opportunity to succeed in life. So, you teach them as much as you can when you can. Teaching your child to read is one of those skills that you’ll want to teach your kids yourself. Reading is such an important skill that you won’t want to leave it someone else. Now, you might be asking yourself, “How can I teach my child to read?” The answer is simple. You don’t have to be a teacher. There are things that you can do at home to teach reading to your children at home.

How Can I Teach My Child to Read

Promote Reading in Your Home

This is probably the easiest thing you can do in answer to the question of how can I teach my child to read. It doesn’t take much money. You don’t need a degree.

Really, you only need to be intentional in your the amount of attention that you give reading in your home.

Here are some ways that you can promote reading in your home:

  • Let them see you reading- Kids love to imitate their parents, so set a good example of being a reader.
  • Buy them books- Teach them to value books as a gift. My daughters always have a book or two on the Christmas wish list (Okay, it’s more like five or six).
  • Read to them- Start as early as possible. Make it a part of the daily routine.
  • Talk to them about what they’re reading- Show them that you’re interested in their reading efforts.
  • Make time for reading- Even in the midst of the busiest of schedules you can make time to read. 15 minutes a day of reading is easy to make time for.

As you can see, promoting reading in your home isn’t all that hard to do. Yet, it’s worth the effort.

Using Language Purposefully

One of the key foundations to reading is phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is when your child recognizes how spoken language works.

It’s recognizing how the individual sounds work together to build words and how words work together to build sentences.

Remember, children learn to talk before they read.

So, be purposeful in your use of language. Talk with your children about how language works.

For example, teach your child that dog starts with the /d/ sound. Also, teach them rhyming words. This helps them learn word families.

At the same time you’re focusing on sounds, you can also teach them their letters.

Point out the connection between the letters and the sounds they make. Incidentally, a great way to do this is to point out letters in a natural setting. Use billboards or signs to start the discussion.

Using language purposefully doesn’t have to be you sitting your child down at the kitchen table and doing worksheets with them. Instead, it can be a fun activity that springs forth as you interact with your child.

You just have to look for opportunities to steer your kid’s attention toward how language works. If you can do that, then you can use the conversation as a means to answer the question of how can I teach my child to read.

Make it Personal

Studies show that children pay more attention to things that fascinate them. Use their personal interest to encourage reading.

One way you can do this is by including games that focus on reading. First, start with alphabet games or using alphabet blocks. Kids love to play. Combining playing with learning is a win-win situation.

Your child will get to play, and you’ll be comforted with the fact that they’re also learning at the same time.

Not only that, but one of the first word that you teach them should be their own name. Think about it, you can’t get more personal than that.

Can you imagine the look on your child’s face when they learn to recognize their own name? That’s an image that will stay with you.

By making the learning personal, your child will be more actively involved. This will help them get more out of it.

As areading interests bonus, you’ll get to spend more quality time with your child in a way that is meaningful.

Make Use of Resources

While your ultimately responsible for your child’s success with reading, you don’t have to be alone in this endeavor. There are plenty of resources available to help you.

There are numerous parent forums on the internet where you can ask other parents for advice.

Also, there are programs available that you can use to supplement the efforts you’ve already made using the suggestions above. Don’t worry. You don’t have to go and blow a ton of money.

There are some great resources that are available at next to no cost. And, think about it for a moment. $50 is a wise investment when it comes to your child’s education.

The benefits of such a program will create an enormous return on your investment.

A word of caution, though. Make sure you do research on any resource that you are thinking about using.

Does it have a solid track record?

Is there proof of its success (like reviews or social media likes)?

Does it include phonemic awareness as part of its program?

With a little effort, you can find a great resource that will be a welcome to the efforts you already make towards teaching your child to read.

How Can I Teach My Child to Read?

You don’t have to struggle for the answer to that question. Really, all you have to do is keep caring for your child as your already do.

While your doing that, be a little more mindful of how you can incorporate purposeful language use and reading into your normal routine. Couple that with a great resource, and you have a winning combination.

You don’t have to be scared of teaching your child to read. When you consider all the other things you teach your kids, reading is just another important life lesson.

So, the question isn’t really about how can I teach my child to read. It’s really about knowing how you can incorporate teaching reading into the time you spend with your kids.

I hope this post was of help to you. If you have a comment or question, please feel free to leave one below.

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