The importance of Phonological Awareness for developing literacy

What is Phonological Awareness?

Phonological Awareness is the ability to manipulate speech sounds in spoken words. For example, a Speech-Language Pathologist may ask a learner to segment syllables of a word by clapping the parts of the word. If the word was “cowboy”, the learner would be expected to clap once for “cow” and again for “boy”.

Why is Phonological Awareness important? 

Phonological Awareness is important, because it forms the basis for reading. Research has shown that children who are weak in Phonological Awareness show improvement in their word-level
reading skills after receiving therapy aimed at improving their Phonological Awareness skills.

How do you improve Phonological Awareness Skills at home? 

Try the following suggestion adapted from Knobelauch (2008):

  1. Find some beads and string around your home.
  2. Give your child some string and beads and have them tie a knot at one end.
  3. Say a word, for example, “cupcake” and have your child string one bead for each syllable they hear in the word. i.e. Your child will string one bead for “cup” and another bead for “cake”.
  • Once your child is able to string two syllable words such as “cupcake” and “cowboy”, try
    stringing three syllable words such as “newspaper” and “peppermint”.


Knobelauch, L. (2008). What is Phonological Awareness? Retrieved from

Candice Tu, Speech-Language Pathologist

A few tips from our LSU remedial therapist for the end of year exams

Exams seem to always be a stressful time for children and for the parents. There is a lot of pressure on children to perform well in their exams and this pressure often causes anxiety which results in more stress and lower results.

Some ideas to make studying more ……

  1. Manage expectations – this goes for both parents and the learners. If your child is not a straight A student during their classwork and class assessments it is unfair to expect them to achieve A’s in their exams. Your child may have stronger subjects in which they do well in and other subjects that they find more challenging. It should be more important that your child is putting in the effort and trying their best. Your child’s efforts should be praised.
  2. Set realistic goals –instead of trying to get over 80% for all of the subjects, the learner could choose their strongest subject and aim high for those but if for example they find math’s really challenging then it may be a big accomplishment to achieve 60% in that exam.
  3. Positive attitude – exams are a stressful time, parents and caregivers should encourage the learner to work hard and to be proud of their efforts. Exams are scary but they are also an opportunity for the learners to apply all of their knowledge that they have been learning during class. Remind them that they have done all of the work already and now they are just revising the work. If you stay calm and positive then your child is more likely to also be calm and positive.
  4. Planning – once your child receives their exam timetable then you should sit down together and help your child plan a study timetable that allows them enough time to prepare in advance for their exams. This timetable should include regular study breaks, breaks for meals, and a time for your child to de-stress, and do activities they enjoy such as playing with their friends. Balance is key and half an hour study sessions each day will be a lot less stressful and more beneficial then a late night three hour cramming session before the big exam.
  5. Ask for help – if your child is really struggling with a concept or subject, contact the teacher and ask if they could send home some extra activities for you to work through together at home. For example even though Math’s is not typically a studying subject your child can practice doing different examples of the sums.
  6. Be Prepared – your child will feel less stressed if they have been revising continuously up to the exam, if they know which exams they are writing when and the times of the exams, if they know that they have all of the stationary and materials they need for the exam. It is always better to have extra stationary in case a pen stops working, a pencil gets lost, or a friend needs to borrow a ruler. On the day of the exam make sure your child has a good healthy breakfast and lunch at school to help them keep up their energy levels, your child won’t be able to concentrate on a grumbly stomach.
  7. Find a study style that works – every child learns differently and they should try out different approaches to find out what works for them, for example:
    1. Auditory learners – learn by listening, may need to say the work out aloud, they may turn their study material into a song, they may want you to ask them questions verbally and they answer them verbally. Could benefit from study groups.
    2. Visual learners – learn by seeing or reading, write out notes and highlight important points, they may do well with mind maps and charts, and flash cards.
    3. Kinesthetic learners – learn by doing and moving, turning their study material into a dance or play, enjoy role playing, can read work while bouncing a tennis ball, practicing timetables or spelling words while throwing a ball to each other, enjoy more practical based activities.

Written by Samantha Bolton – Remedial Therapist

Does your child have difficulty hearing and understanding speech? Here are some explanations

What is an Auditory Processing Disorder?
Auditory processing disorder (APD) is often described as greater than expected difficulty hearing
and understanding speech even though no measurable hearing loss exists. Individuals with
Auditory processing disorders may act as though a hearing loss is present when in fact, hearing
sensitivity is often within normal limits.
A learner with APD may present with some of the following:
• Poor listening skills
• Difficulty following oral instructions or classroom discussions
• Frequently saying, “huh”, or “what?”
• Difficulty with phonics or letter-sound correspondences, sound blending, or segmentation
• Difficulty decoding unfamiliar words
• Poor spelling
• Slow fluency of reading
• Poor reading comprehension
• Difficulty understanding in the presence of background noise
• Poor attention, day dreaming, high distractibility
• Give slow or delayed responses to oral questions
• May be prone to behaviour problems due to frustration or boredom
• Avoidance of reading or other difficult task
Suggestions to assist a learner with APD
Encourage your learner to become a “detective” in finding strategies that work best for their
learning style. Ask them what works for them in the classroom and encourage them to self-monitor
as much as possible.

Some other ideas include:
• Writing directions on the board
• Preferential seating such as making sure the learner sits close to the front of the class
• Limiting background noise during desk work, or wearing ear plugs
• Presenting directions in short segments using visual cues if necessary
• Accommodating your learners longer response time by increasing waiting time so that you give
them a chance to process your instruction
• Asking the learner to repeat back what you said silently to themselves/to you
• Rephrasing and repeating what you have explained in simple sentences
• Maintaining structure and routine so directions are predictable
• Assigning a buddy to your learner so they can check their understanding with their buddy


By: Candice Tu, Speech-Language Pathologist