Literacy is a continuum of skills that begins with an ability to develop auditory processing skills as a foundational building block which then streams to phonological awareness (or phonemic awareness) skills. Despite the many differing and often controversial views of teaching reading, phonemic awareness is based on a bottom-up rationale to building on literacy skills.

Phonemic awareness stems from the smallest unit of sound (called a phoneme) and is based on the fact that sounds also have meaning (known as ‘morphology’). A phoneme is an individual sound such as /s/ or /f/ or /a/. Morphology refers to a small meaningful unit of sound that gives meaning or changes meaning in a word.

Lets take the example of /s/ added to the end of a word, which can have several meanings:

  • Singular/plural: one cat vs 3 cats
  • Possession: The cat’s milk.
  • Third Person Singular Verb Tense: The cat climbs.

Phonemic Awareness Skills Include:

  • Rhyme awareness – same/different
  • Production of rhyming words
  • Counting words, syllables
  • Identification of initial sounds, final, and medial sounds
  • Sound substitution
  • Sound segmenting
  • Sound blending
  • Sound manipulation and replacement

Phonemic Awareness Skills Build on a Hierarchy of Skills