Literacy refers to the ability to read and write. However, in order to succeed at these skills, children need to first develop phonological awareness skills. Letter sound knowledge and phonological awareness skills are found to be predictors of reading success.
These are often referred to as ‘pre-literacy’ skills or the building blocks for literacy.
Phonological awareness refers to the knowledge of speech sound skills such as:
- Letter-sound knowledge
- Knowing which letters makes what sound
- For example: ‘f’ makes a ‘fff’ sound as in ‘fish’
- Identifying letters in words
- Knowing what sound is at the beginning, middle and end of the word
- For example, the first sound of ‘bat’ is ‘b’, last sound is ‘t’ and the middle sound is ‘a’
- Manipulating and deleting sounds in words
- Manipulating sounds – for example, say ‘bat’ but replace the ‘b’ sound with a ‘h’ (answer: hat)
- Deleting sounds – for example, say ‘splat’ without the ‘l’ sound (answer: spat)
- Blending and segmenting sounds with words
- Blending – when individual sounds are given and the child must blend them together to create a word (e.g. when given the sounds ‘m’, ’oo’ and ’n’, they are able to piece it together to make ‘moon’
- Segmenting – breaking down individual sounds when given a word (e.g. ‘bark’ is made of ‘b-ar-k’)
Children need to be competent and confident in all these skills in order to achieve success in reading and spelling familiar and unfamiliar words.