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