Phonemic awareness is without a doubt one of the most important skills your children need to develop before they start reading, and so it is important that you step up and take on the responsibility of working with your child and teaching them all the need to learn.
Indeed, there are many methods that can be used to teach children the concept of phonemic awareness, and you are free to use whichever ones you like. However, I’d urge you to consider adding at least one (or perhaps even many?) of the following phonemic awareness strategies.
Make the Connection with Letters
While it may be a bit counterintuitive, there are various studies that have demonstrated that children are capable of learning the concept of phonemic awareness better when the sounds they are taught are explicitly associated with certain letters.
This won’t take up much of your time, and not only will it help your child become more phonemically aware faster, but it will also kick-start the process of learning how to read, since they will already be making associations between the spoken and the written language.
Customize your Approach
While it is true that in general most children share the same method of thinking, each child has a different level of phonemic awareness; while some may have a very easy time learning others could very well be struggling with the concept of speaking. It is important that you individualize (or customize) if you will the difficulty and intensity of your sessions depending on the kind of abilities your child has.
Clapping the Syllables into Memory
When you are teaching children the concept that words are made up from different groups of sounds that are separated as syllables, it would be good to have them clap for each syllable.
The simple gesture of clapping (or tapping their fingers if that’s what you prefer) will help them to actually remember what syllables make up a word, and what’s more, it will make it easier for them to separate by syllables the words they haven’ t worked on yet.
Children need to be taught that phonemes play a great role when it comes to determining the meaning of a word, and thus, of a sentence. The best way to do that would be to engage in an exercise where you and your child try to make small substitutions to songs, rhymes, or stories that you both know.
When your child sees that changing phonemes changes the meaning of the song, he or she will, simply put, develop a better phonemic awareness.
Humans are visual creatures, and the exact same thing can be said of kids. Using picture flashcards are the perfect tool for developing your children’s phonemic awareness, especially if you use images that are already familiar to them.
You can ask, for instance, your child to name the image that appears on the card, and then cut it down in syllables. The whole concept of using a picture won’t only help your child remember the lessons better, but the exercise itself will also contribute to showing them that words are made up different sounds and phonemes that are independent from one another.
And so, these are a few of the phonemic awareness strategies that exist out there, and while there are certainly more for you to learn about, I suggest you take the time to implement at least a couple of them into your routine to see how it goes.
I’m going to leave you with one final piece of advice: don’t let the learning stop at school. If you truly want your child to flourish intellectually, you will need to turn your home into an environment fit for learning, one in which you regularly work with them (without being an overly-concerned helicopter parent), one where they can progress.