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Developing Phonological Awareness in Young Children:  Tips for Parents and Caregivers


Phonological awareness is a crucial precursor to reading and writing skills in young children.   It’s the awareness that the words we speak can be taken apart.  It involves the ability to hear and manipulate phonemes (speech sounds) in words, which is essential for understanding the alphabetic principle and decoding written words.  Phonological awareness activities can be done with your eyes closed!  As a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) specializing in language and literacy, I often work with parents and caregivers to enhance phonological awareness in children.  Here are some effective strategies to develop this skill in young learners:


1.       Rhyming Games:  Encourage children to identify and generate rhyming words.  Play simple rhyming games like “I Spy” or sing nursery rhymes that emphasize rhyming patterns.  For a great FREE resource, visit and click on Kindergarten and Pre-K.  Here is an example of an oldie but a goodie:


Hey Diddle Diddle


Hey diddle diddle,

The cat and the fiddle,

The cow jumped over the moon.

The little dog laughed to see such sport,

And the dish ran away with the spoon.



2.      Sound Segmentation:  Help children “bust” words into individual speech sounds.  Start with simple, two-sound words (e.g., “go” - /g/ /o/) and gradually increase the complexity to three-sound words (e.g., “ship”  - /sh/ /i/ /p/) as they become more proficient.


3.      Blending Sounds:  Practice blending individual sounds to form words.  For example, say the sounds /f/ /u/ /n/ and ask the child to blend them to say the word “fun.”  SLP tip:  choose words with continuous sounds to start your words (e.g., /s/, /z/, /m/, /n/, /f/, /v/, /l/, /r/).  All vowels are continuous.  These sounds “keep the voice going” and encourage blending of the sounds. 


4.      Phoneme Manipulation:  Encourage children to manipulate sounds in words by adding, deleting, or substituting sounds.  For example, ask them to say “cat” without the /k/ sound.


5.      Letter-Sound Correspondence:  Teach children the relationship between letters and sounds.  Use multisensory approaches, such as using alphabet blocks or letter magnets, to make learning engaging and interactive.


6.      Phoneme Awareness Activities:  Encourage children in activities that focus on specific phonemes, such as identifying words that begin or end with the same sound or sorting words by their initial sounds.  (e.g., words that start with /s/)


7.      Read Aloud:  Reading aloud to children exposes them to the sounds and rhythms of language.  Choose books with rhymes and alliteration to reinforce phonological awareness skills.  (e.g., “Stand Back,” Said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze!” by Patricia Thomas)


8.      Word Play:  Encourage wordplay with tongue twisters, silly sentences, and word games that highlight specific phonemes.  Another goodie:


Fuzzy Wuzzy


Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear,

Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.

Then Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t fuzzy, was he?


9.      Use Technology:  There are many apps and online resources available that can supplement phonological awareness instruction.  Look for ones that provide interactive and engaging activities.  (e.g., Starfall Learn to Read App and


10.  Provide Positive Reinforcement:  Celebrate children’s progress and efforts in developing phonological awareness skills.  Positive reinforcement can motivate them to continue practicing.


By incorporating these strategies into daily interactions and activities, parents and caregivers can help children develop strong phonological awareness skills, laying a solid foundation for their future literacy success.


Contact me at or call 407-850-8346 to learn more about how I can help you and your child with phonological awareness skills or other language and literacy concerns.  Together, let’s ensure that your child has a “sound” future in language and literacy!     



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