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

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