The "Buzz" in Early Childhood Education
Phonemic awareness is one of the current "buzz words" in early childhood education. But, what does it mean?
The smallest units of speech in our language correspond to the letters in our alphabetic system. Phonemic awareness is the awareness that our language is made up of these small, discrete sounds. When we speak, we are not conscious of the individual speech sounds in words. We process the spoken phonemes automatically and focus on meaning. In order to use the alphabet to read and write, we must understand and be able to manipulate phonemes. Approximately 25% of first graders from literacy-rich backgrounds do not have good phonemic awareness and must receive explicit instruction.
Developing an awareness of the sounds of speech is not always simple for young children. Phonemic awareness varies greatly among young children and directly relates to how children learn to read. Preschool children's phonemic awareness is the strongest predictor of success in learning to read. Children without good phonemic awareness have serious difficulties when learning to read and write and the correlation of phonemic awareness to success carries through to the twelfth grade. This is true the world over, independent of the language of the child.
Children's phonemic awareness can be developed and enhanced through direct instruction. Explicit instruction in phonemic awareness has been shown to support and even accelerate children's progress and achievement levels in both reading and writing.
What can you do to increase your child's phonemic awareness?
Work with your child to increase his phonemic awareness. Be sure to ask about the phonemic awareness curriculum content when visiting pre-schools. These "games" are just a few of the fun, enriching and simple actions you can take to enhance your little one's phonemic awareness. ª
|Maureen Ruby, DMD, is a Kindergarten Teacher, Technology Education Teacher: K-3, in North Branford and Adjunct Professor at SCSU teaching a graduate course in Developmental Language Arts.|
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