Phonological Awareness

Oct 28, 2022

What is phonological awareness?

Phonological awareness is an umbrella term that means one’s sensitivity and ability to manipulate units of sound by words (e.g., dog, puppy), syllables (e.g., /dog/, /pu/ /ppy/), onset and rhyme (e.g., /d/ and /og/, /p/ and /uppy/), and phonemes (e.g., /d/ and /o/ and /g/, /p/ and /u/ and /p/ and /e/ ) in a language (Kamhi et al., 2007).

Why is phonological awareness important?

Research indicates that phonological awareness skills are essential for a child’s reading development. According to the National Reading Panel (2000), the ability for a preschool as well as a kindergartener’s ability to understand phonological awareness was one of the main predictors for later reading success.

What are the earliest developmental phonological awareness skills for early to middle preschool aged children?

According to Kaderavek and Justice (2004), one of the earliest developmental phonological awareness skills is word awareness which is the ability to understand that sentences consist of words. For example, the sentence “The dog is big” contains 4 words. The next earliest developing phonological awareness skill is syllable awareness, which is the ability to tap, count, clap, or segment long words (i.e., multisyllabic words) into their individual syllables (Kaderavek & Justice, 2004). For example, “basketball” can be segmented into “ba” and “sket” and “ball.” The last phonological awareness skill to develop during this time is rhyme awareness which is the ability to understand that two words rhyme and be able to state pairs of words that rhyme (Kaderavek & Justice, 2004).

Speech Language Pathologists are a specialist that is best suited to assist in a child’s reading success because they understand the language connection.




Kaderavek, J. N., & Justice, L. M. (2004). Embedded-explicit emergent literacy intervention II. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 35(3), 212-228.

Kamhi, A., Masterson, J., & Apel, K. (2007). Clinical Decision Making in Developmental Language Disorder. Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company.

National Reading Panel. (2000, April). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington. DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.