Glasgow Dyslexia Support Service
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What is phonological awareness and why is it important?

Phonological awareness is the foundation for success in reading. It is a listening skill which allows learners to recognise the rhythms and sounds of spoken language. Some children will be able to do this naturally but others may need more help. This section of the website offers activities to support your learner.

There are several stages in the development of good phonological awareness:

  • Words: noticing individual words
  • Rhyme: noticing rhyme and saying words which rhyme (Some learners never understand rhyme but learn to read regardless.)
  • Syllables: breaking words up into syllables and putting syllables together to say words
  • Phonemes (sounds): this is called phonemic awareness. It’s the ability to tune into words in such a way as to notice that they are made out of different sounds (phonemes), to break words down into these individual sounds and also to blend individual sounds into words.

Phonological awareness is not to be confused with phonics. Phonics is the link between sounds (phonemes) and written letters (graphemes) and is the next big step on the journey to reading. Once learners can work with single phonemes, they can then understand that letters represent specific sounds and learn to blend them together to make words – reading!

Have fun with your child whilst trying out the activities, keep the sessions short and positive. Keep reading to your child – share books with rhymes and short poems, sing songs and make up silly rhyming sentences. Every time you say a nursery rhyme or poem, sing a rhyming song or read a story to your child, you are helping to build their skills in phonological awareness.

Have fun!