Early childhood ability to read words precisely and fluently requires explicit knowledge of the word structure. For this to be possible, children must acquire phonological and phonemic awareness through their teachers, which later helps them attain critical literacy skills. This essay aims at discussing the importance of phonological and phonemic essential skills in helping to develop the early childhood reading and literacy abilities including their applications in learning.
Phonological awareness refers to a general skill that involves recognizing and manipulating oral language units, specific sections such as words, syllables, onsets, and rhymes. According to the New-York-State-Education-Department (2019), this ability evolves in gradual succession, forming the framework for progressive teaching from easy tasks to more challenging ones. The primary skills involved in phonological awareness firstly include word recognition. This entails maintaining the ability to track words in sentences using verbal language (Carlisle et al., 2016). The next competence is syllable awareness through counting, blending, combining, or dividing words according to their syllables. Third, there is adherence to rhyme and alliteration, where the former enables a child to discern between words that rhyme and those that do not, while the latter enables them to group words by their first and last sounds. The last skill in this awareness is the manipulation of onset and rime, which entails understanding a language from the simplest to the most complicated syllables.
Phonemic awareness, which is part of phonological understanding, is the unique capacity to concentrate on and exploit specific sounds in spoken words. According to Carlisle et al., (2016), the tiniest elements which form a spoken language are referred to as phonemes, as they merge to construct words and syllables. For example, “hun”t comprises of four phonemes: /h/ /u/ /n/ /t/.They are 44 in total, which feature sounds formed by combinations of letters such as /sh/. The ability to identify the sounds and differentiate them is crucial in developing reading in children. Thus, listening and comprehension skills tend to be stronger in children with this awareness.
Awareness of the two skills is essential in early reading development. Phonologic recognition enables children to use sound and letter blends to construct words in written models and pronunciation. The awareness of phonemes is crucial as it creates a basis for word recognition and spelling (New-York-State-Education-Department, 2019). It also helps determine how best children can read during their early stages (first two years) of learning by equipping them with a wide range of word vocabularies. Phonemes are thus, essential in the advancement of early reading in children. Early literacy skills are essential in developing communication by equipping learners with a broad knowledge of vocabulary comprehension when reading (Carlisle et al., 2016). Therefore, the learners can utilize language to react, express, and understand information to develop their skills even further.
An example of a creative approach for phonological awareness is where instruction is provided to children to rule the odd one out between “lamp, lady, and camp.” For vocabulary and print concepts, they can be given short paragraphs to read aloud to a group of their colleagues as the instructor takes turns with them and assisting them whenever they are stuck (Carlisle et al., 2016). Finally, for comprehension and listening, one can read a short story and, before turning the page, may ask for their thoughts on what could happen next and encourage them to clarify their response to see how well they have listened and understood the story (New-York-State-Education-Department, 2019). However, it may be convenient for children with disorders such as autism to take a slower pace during such activities and use extra material like photos, shapes, and videos while teaching.
In conclusion, phonological and phonemic awareness is vital in determining the development of early reading in children. The knowledge consequently familiarizes them with a more complex form of literature, enabling them to comprehend languages better. Reading is important in helping children use verbal communication in expressing themselves clearly and listen to others empathetically. It is therefore essential to incorporate these skills in teaching, especially for children at an early stage.
Carlisle, A. A., Thomas, C. N., & McCathren, R. B. (2016). The effectiveness of using a content acquisition podcast to teach phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, and phonics to preservice special education teachers. Journal of Special Education Technology, 31(2), 87–98. Web.
New-York-State-Education-Department. (2019). The New York State kindergarten learning standards: A resource for school success. Kindergarten Learning Standards, 5-41. Web.