Phonemic Awareness Activities
Learning letters and phonics starts with phonemic awareness activities.
I get that there’s so much pressure these days to get your preschooler to learn the alphabet before starting kindergarten.
But many letter recognition activities for preschoolers focus on learning letter names.
These kinds of alphabet activities won’t prepare your preschooler for learning to read because it’s the letter sounds that are important for phonics and learning to read.
Of course, I’m assuming that learning to read is WHY you’re putting energy into helping your child learn letters!
Developing phonemic awareness is the best place to start with learning letter sounds. This means helping your child become aware of the speech sounds in spoken words. After all, letters are actually just symbols that represent speech sounds.
Research shows that phonemic awareness is the best predictor of success with reading.
Children who struggle to learn to read often struggle with phonemic awareness.
It makes sense when you think about it.
Imagine how challenging it would be to learn “phonics” — the code between speech sounds and written symbols — if you struggle to hear and identify the speech sounds in spoken words!
It’s SO much easier to help your preschooler learn phonics when you focus on phonemic awareness before you start letter recognition activities.
Otherwise your child is just memorizing letter names and letter sounds out of context and in isolation with little understanding of what the letters actually mean.
When you develop phonemic awareness FIRST, then it’s just a matter of associating the letter symbols with the speech sounds your child already knows.
Playing sound games is an engaging way to draw your child's attention to the speech sounds in spoken words and begin to develop phonemic awareness.
Most children around 2½ to 3 year old are developmentally ready to become aware of the initial sounds in spoken words by playing sound games with language objects or image cards.
You know the “I SPY” game, right?
Instead of inviting your child to find something that’s a specific color, your child will be looking for something that starts with a specific letter sound.
For example, you might say: “I see something that starts with the sound /s/…. socks! Sssssocks starts with /s/.”
My free SOUND GAMES Quick Start Guide makes it easy to get started with this phonemic awareness activity. You’ll get a step-by-step activity script and printable materials.
I don't want you to make the mistake of focusing on learning letters without laying the foundation for it first!
About the Author
I’m a Montessori teacher and creator of The Playful Path to Reading™ preschool phonics program. Learning to read can be a joyful process of discovery for 3-6 year old children who have solid pre-reading skills. I’ll show you how to make this happen at home for your child using my child-led learning framework and developmentally appropriate phonics activities.