Phonological Awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds of spoken language. This is the beginning foundation of reading and is a critical component to future reading skills, especially for children with language processing disorders (dyslexia, auditory processing, speech deficits, etc.).  Although many children’s brains are “wired” to learn this skill easily, a lot of children need direct teaching. On today’s post, I am going to give you tips and strategies for teaching phonological awareness.

Practice Rhyming

Rhyming is the first step in teaching phonological awareness and helps lay the groundwork for beginning reading development. Rhyming draws attention to the different sounds in our language and that words actually come apart. For example, if your child knows that jig and pig rhyme, they are focused on the ending ig.  

You can begin introducing rhymes by reading stories and poems with your child that use a lot of rhymes aloud together. You will want to first read the story aloud several times simply for the pure joy of reading and sharing the story together. Then you can begin drawing attention to the sounds of the rhyme. For example you can say, “I hear rhyming words! Dog and bog rhyme!” You can also ask your child to predict the next word in the rhyming story. As you read these rhyming books aloud, you will want to really exaggerate the sound of the rhyming words.  

You can also sing rhyming songs and rhyming chants with your child. Singing is so easy to fit into your daily schedule, as you can basically break out in song or chant any time of the day.

Once you have introduced rhyming, you can help your child to identify and practice rhymes by manipulating, adding, deleting or substituting sounds in words.

Some examples of doing this are: 

“Tell me all the words you know that rhyme with the word “hat.”

“Close your eyes. I am going to say 2 words. If they rhyme, raise your hand. If they don’t shake your head.” 

“Say the word hat. Good. Say the word hat again, but change the h to b.  (bat).  

“Listen to these 3 words – mop, plop, flop, tag. Which of these does not rhyme?”

“Can you finish my sentence for me. The cat sat on the _______.”

Rhyming is one of those reading skills that is really fun to work on and kids like doing it. If you want to read a more detailed post on rhyming and a list of songs to sing, and a list of rhyming books to read, you can read my post:

How to Teach Rhyming


Practice Syllable Division

Breaking up words into syllables or chunks is the second step of teaching phonological awareness. Syllabication helps children learn to read and spell difficult words. When a child is stuck on a difficult word, they can use syllabication rules to figure it out.

One activity that helps a child pull apart the syllables in a word is to count them. This can be done by clapping each syllable. You can start by counting (actually clapping) the number of syllables in your child’s own name.  Ja-son (clap, clap).  Jon-a-than.  (clap, clap, clap). You can also clap out the days of the week Tues-day, the months of the year, Sep-tem-ber and fun words like cu-cum-ber or Cin-der-el-la.   

If your child is having trouble understanding syllables, try using “chin dropping.” This technique will help your child really “feel” the syllables. Place your hand under your chin. Now, say a multisyllabic word aloud. Every time your chin drops, that is one syllable! For a more detailed description on teaching syllables as well as every syllable type you need to teach and a bunch of strategies and activities you can use, read my post:

My Favorite Multisyllabic Word Activities


Practice Sound Segmentation

Pulling apart words into different sounds is what we call sound segmentation. For example the word bat has three sounds – /b/, /a/, /t/.  The word ship also has three sounds – /sh/, /i/, /p/.  Teaching sound segmentation is the final process in teaching phonological awareness. This step is the one that leads to beginning blending in reading.

You can begin working on sound segmentation by asking your child to match the very first sounds in words and then the final sounds. It is helpful to have a set of cards with pictures of everyday objects (man, boy, girl, cat, dog, house, book, etc.). You can also cut out pictures from magazines and use those. Once your child is successful at matching beginning sounds, work on ending sounds.

“Say the word bat.  What is the last sound you hear in the word bat?”

Your child can also tap on the desk for each sound or stomp their fists. I like to use sound tokens. The child listens to a word and then moves the sound token into a box for each sound in the word.  


In Summary

Phonological awareness skills are the basis for reading and without this important skill, potential reading difficulties might occur in the early reading stage. A child who has strong and solid phonological skills will have a strong reading foundation to develop with.


Thank you for reading my post today.  You might also enjoy reading my previous post:

How to Teach Letters and Sounds Correctly

How to Teach Beginning Blending in Reading


Please don’t leave without checking out the PRIDE Reading Program.  The PRIDE Reading Program is an Orton-Gillingham curriculum that is used by teachers, tutors, and homeschooling parents worldwide with great success.

The PRIDE Reading Program


Karina Richland, M.A., is the author of the PRIDE Reading Program, a multisensory Orton-Gillingham reading, writing and comprehension curriculum that is available worldwide for parents, tutors, teachers and homeschoolers of struggling readers. Karina has an extensive background in working with students of all ages and various learning modalities. She has spent many years researching learning differences and differentiated teaching practices. You can reach her by email at info@pridereadingprogram.com or visit the website at www.pridereadingprogram.com
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