"A room without books
is like a body without a soul."
In my pre-mama-days, I was a high school English and Speech teacher. Though you'd never know it with all the errors I find after I hit "publish".
In my pre-mama-days, I was also a certified Reading Specialist.
But even with all that...
I still didn't truly understand the importance of phonemic awareness.
But then, God gifted us with our first child, who is bright and creative and funny and kind and who we love beyond measure...
But she is also
and she really struggled with reading early on.
"Once you learn to read,
you will forever be free."
And so began my real awareness...
Of phonemic awareness.
To give an over-simplified-definition--
Phonemic awareness is the ability to distinguish between different sounds and to manipulate sounds. And phonemic awareness is an important basis for reading.
AND--there are things you can do this summer to help your child grow in this area.
"The function of a good book is to stand like a signpost
guiding the reader to the Truth and the Life."
Phonemic awareness is not--
--the ability to recognize and name letters.
--the ability to say what sound each letter makes.
--the ability to memorize sight words.
Phonemic awareness comes before all that.
And it has a huge impact on future reading skills.
Research shows that poor phonological awareness and phonological skills, often predict poor reading and spelling (and often speech) development.
Phonemic awareness is--
--the ability to hear individual words in sentences.
(Think...clap for each word you hear in the sentence "The cat is fluffy".)
--the ability to hear and divide words into spoken syllables.
(Think... clap once for each syllable in the word "television".)
--the ability to differentiate sounds within a word.
(Think... tell me each sound you hear in the word "r-a-t".)
--the ability to hear and produce rhyming words.
(Think... what words rhyme with "fox"?)
--the ability to substitute sounds verbally and come up with new words.
(Think... change the "kuh" in cat to an "mmmm" and now what word do you have?)
--the ability to blend sounds.
(Think... can you put together these sounds to make a word? "Fff--oo--duh"?)
--the ability to hear alliterations in words.
(Think... what same sound do you hear in the words "fff-un, fff-ood, and fff-rog"?)
If you have a pre-reader or a struggling reader,
Or you just want to help your child become a better reader this summer--
There are ways to encourage the development and improvement of your child's phonemic awareness, and in connection, their reading skills.
Some simple activities that promote phonemic awareness:
(many of these work great for summer travel and car rides)
--Clap out the words in a sentence (one clap for each word).
--Practice clapping out the syllables in words (one clap for each syllable).
--Play a game of--who can think of 5 words that start with the sound "ssss"?
--Practice rhyming words.
--Read books that encourage phonemic awareness (see some of our favorites below).
--Use songs, rhyming games, nursery rhymes, and rhyming poetry as much as possible and let your child fill in the rhymes when you're reading.
(For example, from Green Eggs and Ham..."I would not eat them in a box. I would not eat them with a _____.")
--Play the verbal game of "What's left when you take away_____?"
(If we take away "ssss" from the word "star" what are we left with?")
--Play the "What word does not belong game?"
(For example..."box, fox, rocks, cat" or "cat, cake, cord, ball".)
--Sing songs that rhyme.
("I spy with my little eye, something that rhymes with blue...it's something in this room...it's your shoe" or "Carrie-Carrie-bo-berry-fee-fie-mo-merry...Carrie".)
--Use counters. Give you child a pile of blocks and have them put down one block for each word in a sentence...or for each sound in a word.
("I went to the zoo" = 5 blocks. "candy" = 5 blocks...I try to choose words they like. smile.)
--Use rhyming pair puzzlesor make your own by printing out simple object photos of words that rhyme.
--Play with compound words.
(Say the word "horseshoe" and then ask "If you take away shoe...what do you have left?")
"No man can be called friendless
who has God
and the companionship of good books."
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Some of the books (we enjoy) that encourage phonemic awareness:
Sheep on a Ship (the whole series)
Jesse Bear (the whole series)
And above all...
If you want to develop your child's phonemic awareness this summer...
Read to them.
Read with them.
Read around them.
Read some more!
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