Phonological Awareness

little talkerPut simply, phonological awareness is being able to hear and play with the smaller sounds within words.Very young children naturally like to play around with making sounds, e.g. da, da, da.

Authors know that young children enjoy books that rhyme (e.g. The Cat In The Hat), books with alliteration (e.g. The big bad bear…) and books with animal sounds  (e.g. cock-a-doodle-do) and other sounds (e.g. whoosh, whoosh, whoosh). You may have noticed that your children join in with you if you read these sorts of books to them.

Phonological awareness helps children to break down words into parts in order to be able to read and write them. Eventually the student needs to be able to  hear the smallest sounds within words (phonemes). We may have the students clap their name to hear the parts, e.g. Ma-ri-a has 3 claps. We also introduce sound boxes to hear and represent individual sounds.

Some ways you can help your child to develop phonological awareness at home:

– Choose some library books with rhyming words, alliteration, sounds of animals and other things, and poems / nursery rhymes.
– Say the rhymes  with your child. After a few times, pause just before the rhyming word and see if your child can say it.
– Make up silly words that rhyme with your child’s name, e.g. Sam, bram, tam-tam.
– Sing songs and point out some rhyming words.
– Sometimes ask if 2 words rhyme, e.g. Do cat and fat rhyme? Do dog and cat rhyme?
– Say words with word chunks left out, e.g. What word would you have if you left foot off football?
– Put 2 word chunks together. What word would you have if you put hot and dog together?
– Take away a sound. What word would you have it you take b away from bat?

If you would like to know more about phonological awareness or phonemic awareness  go to

Pasting homework

cut up sentenceAll of our students have now finished the informal Roaming lessons and they have begun the formal Reading Recovery lessons.  Your children are now bringing home their daily homework. You will be used to having your child bring home a book to read. The pasting homework is a very important addition. I have previously written a post explaining the role of the cut up sentence which becomes the pasting homework.

The students are learning many valuable skills for reading (and writing) as they reassemble their cut up sentences. These include:

  • Sentences are made up of individual words that can be spoken and written down. (1:1 matching of voice and print.)
  • Word order is important to make sense.
  • A space is needed between each word.
  • A capital letter will always be at the beginning of the sentence.
  • The full-stop (question mark or !) will go at the end of the sentence.
  • Words look different from each other.
  • I can search for a word, e.g. I can say the word- went– and look for a word that starts with w.
  • Some words will look partly the same and l will have to pay attention to other letters within the word.
  • I can check the sentence by rereading. Does it make sense? Does it look right? Are there any words left over? Do l have enough words?

It is tempting to take over the task for the child, especially if you are in a rush. If the child is not doing the task he /she is missing out on all of the above learning experiences. If your child needs assistance, give the minimal support required to prompt him or her, e.g.
Your sentence is about ______.
It starts ____.
What word are you looking for? What would you expect to see at the beginning?
Does ____ look like that at the beginning / end? Slide your finger under the word as you check it.
Will The or the go here?

Read the original sentence (written on the sticky-note) to your child if it is beyond him / her. Allow your child to directly copy from the sticky-note if he / she is getting frustrated. The task is not meant to be hard.

Print Awareness

girl on books (2)Our new students need to be ready to read. This includes having  print awareness. 

Print Awareness  includes knowing that print has meaning (we read to get a story / information from the writing), knowing how to handle a book (holding it the right way up and  turning the pages from the front to the back), and noticing print all around (writing is not only in a book).

Many of our students focus nearly all of their attention on the pictures. We want them to have a look at the picture to guess what the page will be about, but then they have to know to focus on the words. Some children need an adult to direct them to the purpose of the print, i.e. that the written word has meaning.

Some ways that you can help at home:
Reading a book to / with your child

  • Use the words “front” and “back” of the book. If your child hands you a book upside down or backwards, explain that you are turning it to start at the beginning.
  • Point to words of the title as you say them. (Matching one spoken word with one written word.)
  • Let your child turn the pages of the book.
  • Many beginner books have some repeated words on each page, e.g. Look up the road. Look down the road. Here comes a …. Point to these words as you say them. This helps your child see that we read from left to right and from top to bottom of the page. (This may be different to another known language.)
  • Point to a word that interests your child, e.g. dinosaur. Show your child that written words have a space on each side. Point out the 1st letter and the last letter to familiarize your child with these terms. (letter, word, first, last)

How can l help my child at home?

sharing brochureIt’s important that children understand what they are reading. That’s why we talk about the pictures before we ask our students to read a book.

This excellent brochure – Sharing Books With Children from has some very useful tips.

“The way you talk with your children as you read books together makes a difference in their being ready to learn to read.” For example:

  • Use conversations around the pictures to improve children’s vocabulary (known words) and comprehension (understanding).
  • Ask ‘what’ questions: What’s this? Leave some time for your child to think and answer.
  • Add a little more information. That’s right. It’s a cow. A baby cow is called a calf.
  • Follow answers with another question. What else can you see? / I wonder why…?
  • Relate something in the book to your child’s experience. Remember when ….. Tell me about it.

Click on the picture to read more tips in the brochure. Scroll down to Reading and then click on Sharing Books with Young Children in order to download your own copy.