Phonological awareness is the ability to recognize that spoken words are made up of individual sound parts.
Before kids read entire words, they will break up the words into more digestible chunks. Teachers might work on the “ch” sound or “str” to help kids identify how words break down into smaller sections. When you pair “str” with “ong” you get “strong.”
Music is a fantastic way to practice this at home. Songs often break words up into smaller chunks as the notes progress. Look at Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. “Twin-kle twin-kle lit-tle star” breaks those words up into smaller sounds to practice.
Rhymes are also great for this skill! Finding books with rhythmic rhyme schemes can help showcase how word endings sound similar. A 3-year-old isn’t quite going to be listening to Hamilton to learn rhyme schemes but books from our BASICS RHYMES section are perfect primers for phonological awareness.
Tongue twisters might be the most fun way to work on this. By having to slow down and think about the words – or speed up and have vocal garble – kids can see how phonological sounds make up a word. Try saying “toy boat” over and over, getting faster each time, until you stumble over your own tongue!
As your children learn that words exist and are made up of letters, they will progress to phonological awareness. Every one of these early literacy skills is a building block for the next!