Before your child can read, they must master the ability to hear sounds within words. In fact, developing phonological awareness begins before kids even start school. And oddly enough, this is a skill that is often overlooked in early reading.

So, what is Phonological Awareness?

Phonological awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate sounds, syllables, and words in language. The word “phonological” comes from the Greek root “phon” which refers to “sounds and voice”. This is a foundational literacy skill that predicts later reading success and is one of the 5 Components of Reading. Children that are proficient in PA have a good starting point for learning to string sounds together, as in reading, and breaking sounds apart, as in spelling. Here’s what phonological awareness includes:

Building Strong Reading Foundations with Phonological Awareness
  • Understanding that sentences are made up of individual words
  • Identifying the number of syllables in words
  • Recognizing an onset (sounds before the vowel) and rime (the vowel and everything after) in a single syllable
  • Identifying words that rhyme
  • Manipulating sounds (phonemes) in spoken words

Research tells us there is a strong connection between proficiency in phonological awareness and dyslexia. So, how can you ensure your child is getting enough phonological awareness practice?

One way is through assessment. At EarlyBird Education, we assess a child’s ability to rhyme, recognize the first sounds in words, and even blend and manipulate sounds to make words. This is a comprehensive look at phonemic and phonological processing.

Phonological Awareness helps build those foundational reading skills!

What can you do at home to help build those early reading skills? Why not play with the sounds and words? This can be incorporated into your child’s everyday routine, like rhyming words and chanting songs during a car, bus, or train ride.

Chanting a nursery rhyme like Hickory Dickory Dock, or listening for alliteration in Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers, can be fun ways to get some phonological awareness practice! And while you’re at it … why not clap out how many syllables are in the word “basketball”? Bas-ket-ball!

When you are reading that favorite rhyming bedtime story, see if your child can fill in the rhyming word when you leave it out. Or maybe take apart a one-syllable word into onset and rime. Take advantage of that downtime and build those early phonological awareness skills!


Interested in continuing to develop your child’s phonological awareness? Our new program, EarlyBird at Home, focuses on this and the other building blocks of literacy. The program combines a fun game-based skill development app with our award-winning EarlyBird Assessment, dedicated support from a Literacy Specialist, and additional resources to help parents support their children.

Learn more about EarlyBird at Home