Speech Therapy Services

Phonological Awareness

Phonological Awareness relates to a child's ability to identify differences between words, blend together individual sounds to form words, and take words apart into sounds.

This skill is considered important because it lays the foundation for early reading skills. Phonological awareness is a broader category that describes a variety of skills that focus on larger sound units such as syllables, words, and the beginning parts of words (onset) and end (rime). Phonemic awareness is regarded as a part of phonological awareness, but it focuses on individual phonemes – these are the individual sounds that make up words.

The distinction between phonological and phonemic awareness is important in literacy instruction because it helps speech therapists understand which level of sound manipulation clients are able to do. Teaching phonological and phonemic awareness help children learn how to decode written words into spoken words and vice versa.

What Are Phonological Awareness Skills?

Phonological awareness skills are broken down into sub-skills. These include the abilities to recognize and produce rhyming words, syllable segmentation, onset-rime activities, phoneme segmentation, and more.

Being able to differentiate between each of these skills can help provide teachers with the information needed to provide targeted instruction for developing phonological and phonemic awareness and literacy in their students. With practice, children can learn to recognize patterns in language and manipulate sounds in words - skills that are integral for successful reading and spelling development. Speech therapists are able to evaluate and treat phonological awareness difficulties.

How can treatment for phonological awareness improve reading skills?

Phonological awareness skills are essential for developing proficiency in reading and spelling. Being able to break down words accurately into smaller sound units, like phonemes, helps children recognize patterns in the language and make meaningful connections between written and spoken words and speech sounds. Rhyming, syllable segmentation, and onset-rime activities also help develop phonemic and phonological awareness. With practice, children can learn essential skills like segmenting sounds, so they become more aware of the complexities of sounds in spoken language - a skill that is critical in a child's ability to become a proficient reader and speller.

In therapy, speech therapists can address a child's ability to blend sounds together, compare the sounds of different words, rhyme words, find the same sound in words, and count the number of syllables in a word. This can improve skills in segmenting sounds, reading, and spelling by giving the child a better understanding of how the sounds form words and predict what sounds will make up specific words.

What activities promote Phonemic Awareness Skills?

There are a variety of activities that can be used to promote phonemic awareness skills. Activities such as syllable segmentation activities, identify which words from a group have the same sound (alliteration), and adding sounds to words (phoneme addition) are great ways to engage children in learning these skills. Having children identify beginning sounds or middle sounds when they hear words is also an effective phonemic awareness activity. Repetition and practice with these activities help children develop an awareness of the individual sounds within words - a critical component for developing early literacy.

Testing for Phonological Awareness Disorders

Testing for phonological awareness is important to evaluate a child’s pre-literacy skills. Typically, clients are first tested on their ability to recognize the differences between different words and sounds. Speech therapists additionally evaluate skills such as syllable segmentation, onset-rime activities, and phoneme segmentation. This can provide speech therapists information regarding a client’s progress with sound patterns and identification, skills that are essential for reading tasks.