What Is Phonological Awareness and Why Is It Important for Reading? 5 Things Parents                              Need to Know

Teachers often talk about phonological awareness without taking the time to explain it. Some even use it interchangeably with phonics but the two are quite distinct. It's crucial that parents understand what phonological awareness is and how they play a huge role in developing it. Here are 5 things parents need to know:

  1. Phonological Awareness Is the Foundation for Reading – As soon as a child is born (and some would argue at conception), she is learning how language works. While learning to speak develops naturally in children, learning to read must be taught. But this doesn't mean parents need to use flashcards and workbooks. Building phonological awareness happens through speaking and singing to a child, reciting poems, nursery rhymes, and tongue twisters, and listening to music.
  1. Phonics and Phonological Awareness Are Not the Same – Some teachers use these terms interchangeably, but they're not the same. Phonics instruction starts in school and focuses on printed words. It involves the relationship between sounds and written symbols (letters). Phonological awareness involves the sounds in spoken words and is learned orally.
  1. Studies Show Phonological Awareness Is Key to Reading Success – Kids who can isolate beginning, middle, and ending sounds in words, identify and produce rhyming words, and separate words into syllables have the skills necessary to become strong readers. Those with weak phonological awareness struggle with reading.  
  2. Singing Songs and Listening to Music Is an Effective Way to Develop Phonological Awareness -- Singing old favorites such as Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, and The Farmer in the Dell is a wonderful way to add phonological awareness into your daily routine. But, perhaps, the easiest way to do so is to listen to children's music when you're in the car. Here are some favorites:
*Learning Basic Skills Through Music Volumes 1 & 2 by Hap Palmer – Hap Palmer has been around a long time and with good reason. He's the quintessential singer of kids' music and a favorite of preschool and kindergarten teachers.
*Kids in Motion by Greg and Steve – These songs will get you and your child up and moving. They're high-energy fun and get kids exercising without even realizing their exercising!
*Happiness Cake by Linda Arnold – These are terrific songs for listening to in the car. Some are soft and sentimental and other are just crazy good fun.
*10 Carrot Diamond by Charlotte Diamond – Kids adore this collection of songs, especially Looking for Dracula and I Wanna be a Dog.
*Dr. Jean Sings Silly Songs by Dr. Jean – While her voice may not sound pleasing to everyone, Dr. Jean has the ability to choose songs that kids love and want to hear again and again.
*Late Last Night by Joe Scruggs – Sing along with these entertaining songs that make kids squeal with delight.
*The Singable Songs Collection – Many adults will remember listening to Raffi when they were kids. The music stands the test of time with classics such as Down By the Bay and Willoughby Wallaby Woo.

Many parents listened to Raffi when they were kids. His music stands the test of time. It's enjoyed by both adults and kids. Songs such as Willoughby Wallaby Woo let kids get silly with language and promote phonological awareness.

5. Parents Are the Best Ones to Teach Phonological Awareness –Phonological awareness should get promoted in a fun, organic way and moms and dads are the best ones to do it. They can keep it light by making up rhymes for their child throughout the day: “It's time for Billy's nap/He shouldn't fall asleep on Momma's lap/He may dream about going to the moon/Or, perhaps, going to the zoo and seeing a baboon.”

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