Children with a history of speech-sound disorders are at risk for reading difficulties. Because of this, it is critical to start working on pre-literacy skills at an early age. Before a child is able to read, there are pre-reading skills that must develop. One of these skill areas is phonological awareness. Phonological awareness refers to the awareness of speech sounds and the ability to reflect and manipulate them.
Phonological awareness includes skills such as rhyming, segmenting a word into sounds, blending sounds into a word, identifying the first or last sound in a word, and changing a sound to make a new word. Here are some activities you can try with your child to support the development of these skills:
1. I-SPY. Play I-Spy while incorporating practice with sounds or rhyme. For example, “I spy something that starts with the letter /m/“ or “I spy something that rhymes with pie”.
2. Flip Book: Write a 3-letter word on a piece of paper. Write a new letter on a post-it note and cover up the first letter. What happens? Sound out the new word. Repeat those steps to make various real and nonsense words that rhyme. Staple the post-it notes to the big piece of paper to make a flip book.
3. Scavenger Hunt: Choose a sound and tell your child to collect 5 items from around the house that start with that sound or end with that sound.
4. Clap your Name: Model saying a word and clapping for each part (ex: “Mon-key. Monkey has two parts!”) Then, have your child clap for each syllable in their name. Repeat with the names of all family members and friends!
Phonological awareness is not only critical for literacy development. It is also a good predictor of future reading abilities.