How to support your children’s literacy development.

Supporting children to become confident readers, doesn’t start with teaching them to read and write their “abc’s”. It starts with talking and listening with them , shared conversations, sharing of books and Phomemic Awareness …

What is Phonemic Awaress?

Phonemic Awareness (PA) is:

  • the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds in spoken words and the understanding that spoken words and syllables are made up of sequences of speech sounds (Yopp, 1992; see References).
  • essential to learning to read in an alphabetic writing system, because letters represent sounds or phonemes. Without phonemic awareness, phonics makes little sense.
  • fundamental to mapping speech to print. If a child cannot hear that “man” and “moon” begin with the same sound or cannot blend the sounds /rrrrrruuuuuunnnnn/ into the word “run”, he or she may have great difficulty connecting sounds with their written symbols or blending sounds to make a word.
  • essential to learning to read in an alphabetic writing system.
  • a strong predictor of children who experience early reading success.

An important distinction:

  • Phonemic awareness is NOT phonics.
  • Phonemic awareness is AUDITORY and does not involve words in print.

Phonemic Awareness is important …

  • It requires readers to notice how letters represent sounds. It primes readers for print.
  • It gives readers a way to approach sounding out and reading new words.
  • It helps readers understand the alphabetic principle (that the letters in words are systematically represented by sounds).

…but difficult:

  • Although there are 26 letters in the English language, there are approximately 40 phonemes, or sound units, in the English language. (NOTE: the number of phonemes varies across sources.)
  • Sounds are represented in 250 different spellings (e.g., /f/ as in ph, f, gh, ff).
  • The sound units (phonemes) are not inherently obvious and must be taught. The sounds that make up words are “coarticulated;” that is, they are not distinctly separate from each other.

(copied from

Phonemic Awareness doesn’t need fancy games, work sheets, you just need time with your child. A car trip to and from Kinder is usually a good opportunity for captured attention.

Nursery rhymes: Sing / Say  … identify the parts that rhyme, over time get the children to tell you what is interesting about particular words.

Tongue Twisters /Alliteration: Share, and create them.

Syllabification: the act, process, or method of forming or dividing words into syllables. Give the children a word like Picnic, it breaks into the syllables Pic-nic

Initial and final sounds: I spy with my little ear something starting/ ending  with ___


If you prefer more structure experiences, this website has variety of material both structured and song/game based. There is plenty more on the web.

Encouraging children to find language interesting, and supporting their confidence to play with language is the best literacy start we can give them.