Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and work with the individual sounds in spoken words. For example, a child could tell by listening that "big" and "boy" start with the same "buh" sound, or that "bug" and "frog" end with the same "guh" sound.
Children who are learning to read will progress much faster and with more confidence in reading and spelling if they can do tasks like these:
Many children begin developing skills like these when they are 3 or 4 years old. This may happen very informally, or kids may receive direct practice in preschool or kindergarten. Because children enter first grade with different background experiences, their skill with manipulating sounds will vary, and first grade teachers will need to include some phonemic awareness activities to give kids practice in this area. Most children have a solid basis in this area by grade two.
Kids need to be able to hear the differences in spoken sounds before they can recognize letter sounds in written words. Reading words and spelling are much easier when kids understand how sounds work together.
Kids need to be able to hear the differences in spoken sounds before they can tell the difference between sounds in written words.
Children who do not have strong phonemic awareness skills may have difficulty reading aloud, spelling, and blending sounds together or grasping phonics concepts. Teachers may mistakenly work more on spelling or increased phonics instruction when what the child really needs is more time working with the spoken sounds of words.
If too many different skills are taught too close together, or if not enough time is given for kids to learn each skill, children may have trouble applying these skills to reading and spelling.
Here are some simple things you can do to help kids improve their skills: