Use word games and nursery rhymes to help your child build this valuable skill
In my last post I explained what phonemic awareness is and why it is an essential set of skills for children as they learn to read.
So what can you do to help children develop these skills?
As with all aspects of teaching children to read, it is important to balance implicit and explicit instructional methods.
One way to encourage the development of a child’s phonemic awareness is through explicit teaching strategies: you can play word games with your child that help them practice oral segmenting (what are the sounds in cat? /c/, /a/, and /t/) and oral blending (what word do the sounds /b/ /a/ and /t/ make? Bat!).
A more advanced exercise might involve asking your child to substitute phonemes. “What word do you get when you swap the /c/ sound in “cat” for the /b/ sound?” you ask. “Bat!” they say. “What about changing the /b/ sound in “bell” with the /t/ sound?” “Tell!”
Another way to improve a child’s phonemic awareness is through implicit teaching strategies. For generations, we have implicitly helped children gain phonemic awareness through songs and nursery rhymes. Don’t just read nursery rhymes to your children: have them sing along with you. As they use their voices to make the words, the rhyming sounds in these familiar verses will allow your child to understand how certain sounds can be exchanged, substituted and rearranged to make different words, naturally developing their phonemic awareness.
As an educational parent, all of these techniques are things you can practice with your child anywhere and at any time. They will help to improve your child’s literacy as they are learning to read, but they are also helpful before your child learns to read. By improving your child’s phonemic awareness before they even begin reading, you are setting them up for success when they get started.
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