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What is Phonological and Phonemic Awareness? Why is it Important for Helping Children Develop Reading Skills?

Phonological awareness is a person's knowledge and awareness of the sound structure of words, and it involves working with sounds and sound structures including syllables, onsets and rimes, and phonemes. Phonemic Awareness on the other hand, involves working only with phonemes and is a subset of phonological awareness. Phonemes are the smallest units of sound which combine together to form the words we speak. For example, the word "BUS" has 3 distinct phonemes, which are /b/, /u/, and /s/. (Note: slashes denote the sound of letters, and not the letter names.)

Why is phonemic awareness so important in helping children (or anyone) build a solid foundation in reading? Simply put, there is a large number of scientific studies that have found a direct correlation between phonemic awareness and the reading ability of students. It helps the child build a keen understanding of how the spoken English language works, through mastering and working with the phonemes.

One of the first steps in helping small children develop reading skills is to help the child develop phonemic awareness. This approach to learning reading is in direct contrast to the whole language, or look-and-say approach to learning to read, where words are taught as a whole and are learned by the full configurations - a sort of "memorize the shape" approach, if you will. As you'll see in just a bit, the whole language method of learning reading produces poor results, and is far from being the ideal approach to teaching children to read. Learning to read by developing phonemic awareness, on the other hand, is a logical, bottom-up approach that breaks down words into their individuals sounds and the child is then taught to work with and combine the sounds to form the complete word - a process of decoding. Countless studies have found phonemic awareness to be a far superior approach to teaching children to read.

All of this has been confirmed and nicely summed up by the National Reading Panel (NRP) in their report made after a review of over 1,960 studies where they stated:

 

"The results of the meta-analysis were impressive. Overall, the findings showed that teaching children to manipulate phonemes in words was highly effective under a variety of teaching conditions with a variety of learners across a range of grade and age levels and that teaching phonemic awareness to children significantly improves their reading more than instruction that lacks any attention to PA." [1]

 

As you can see, teaching children phonemic awareness helps to build a solid foundation in their reading skills development, and this approach SIGNIFICANTLY improves children's reading more than programs that do not include the teaching of phonemic awareness.

However, the NRP also pointed out that phonemic awareness is NOT a complete reading program. Rather, it helps children develop the essential foundational knowledge of the alphabet system which leads to reading skill development. Along with phonemic awareness training, it is also necessary to include a complete and integrated reading program to ensure that the child will learn to read effectively.

Our Children Learning Reading program not only shows you super effective methods and techniques to help your child develop phonemic awareness, but it is also a complete reading program that allows you to easily and effectively teach your child to read, and help your child develop accurate and fluent reading abilities. We all know the importance of reading, and the immense benefits reading has for the mind. We originally developed our reading program such that it would be simple enough to allow us to teach our children to read at very young ages - all of our children learned to read before they were even 3 years old, and they were reading at a grade 3 level by age 4. (See here for videos.)

Our Children Learning Reading program is taught to your child in super simple and extremely effective lessons. Our program will guide you STEP-by-STEP throughout the entire process, allowing you to effectively teach your child to read and develop superb reading abilities. Please watch the presentation below, to learn more about our reading program in detail.

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