When our children are learning to read, phonemic awareness is a term that you might not be familiar with yet. I know that when my daughter was beginning to read, I had never heard of the term.
Phonemic awareness is the ability to HEAR sounds and separate, manipulate, and change them. Phonemic awareness is only ever ORAL, never written (that’s phonics). It is also the FIRST reading foundation to develop and it starts as soon as babies are born. Through singing and talking to our little ones, we are establishing rhythm, rhyming, and much more. Nursery rhymes are ESSENTIAL to the development of phonemic awareness as rhyming is absolutely necessary for a strong foundation in phonemic awareness. Children need to be able to rhyme and manipulate words orally before they can even begin to learn letters and sounds.
Here’s a quick, fun phonemic awareness activity for you to try with your children:
Say a word to your child like “mat”. Have them repeat it, then say “Change the /m/ sound to /s/ (saying the sound, not the letter name), and what’s the new word? Sat!”
You can do this with endless words for a fun, pass-the-time activity, all the while building your child’s phonemic awareness! One of our essential sets for learning phonemic awareness was Usborne’s phonics readers. They offer these colorful, interactive books individually or as a discount set. All are great for introducing your children to the world of phonics and to begin their adventures in reading!