Phonological awareness includes understanding that spoken words are made up of syllables and sounds that we can separate and blend, that some words start with the same sound, and that some words rhyme.

How can I help?

  • Count syllables in words.
    • Help your child think of as many family members or friends who have a one-syllable name. Say each name and clap one time as you say it. Repeat the brainstorming process for names up to four syllables. Can you think of someone who has four syllables in their name?
  • Give your child repeated exposure to rhyming words.
    • See how many rhyming words in a word family you can think of. Say a word from a word family like bat, cat, fat or hat, at the same time that you roll or bounce a ball to your child. Your child rolls or bounces the ball back as he or she says a word that rhymes. Keep going until you can’t think of anymore words and then switch to a new word family (dip, flip, nip, hip, or man, can, fan or pan). Repeat again and again. If this seems too easy make your own silly rules, such as only choosing words that are real or only thinking of nonsense words that rhyme.
  • Emphasize beginning sounds in words.
    • Say a simple silly sentence in which all, or most, of the words begin with the same sound (e.g. The purple pet is purring). Have your child repeat the sentence and tell you what sound is repeated at the beginning of each word. Change the beginning of each word to a new sound and guess the word. For example, you might replace the beginning sound to the sound of Z … The zurple zet is zurring.
  • Create listening games with word sounds.
    • Squirt shaving cream on a cookie sheet and use your hand to create a smooth surface. Say a word that can be easily drawn by your child, such as hat or cat. Say the sounds of the word and have your child draw a simple picture in the shaving cream.
  • Blend sounds in words together.
    • Choose a picture or object that can easily be drawn by your child (cat, mat, box, pig). Say each sound of the picture slowly, such as /k/../a/../t/ for cat. Have your child guess the word by drawing the picture in the shaving cream. Repeat with different words.