Importance of Phenomic Awareness in Early Childhood Learning


Learning to read is a critical component of early childhood education. However, often times, this can be an overwhelming task for the young kids. Before they can start reading, it is important for children to understand how sounds work in a language. That is where phonemic awareness in early childhood education comes in to play.

What is Phenomic Awareness? 

In simple words, phenomic awareness may be referred to as one’s ability to recognise, analyse, and manipulate the different sounds in spoken speech. This is an auditory skill that allows individuals to distinguish and recognise the sound structure of any language. For example, phonemic awareness helps us realise that the word ‘puppy’ is a combination of the sounds /p/ /u/ /p/ /ee/.

It is important to note that phenomic awareness is not the same as phonics. This critical skill is often considered to be a precursor to reading letters. This is why experts suggest that print should never be a part of phonemic awareness instruction. As an early childhood educator, if you are working with letters or printed words, you may have skipped a step. Recent research suggests that before reading can begin, our classrooms should focus on phonemic awareness. Before we start phonics instruction, it is important to ensure that the students have a thorough understanding of the sounds of speech.

Nowadays, many early childhood teachers are under extreme pressure to get their students reading quickly. In this scenario, one may lose sight of the overall developmental process. However, skipping steps will only lead to limited progress in reading because the children wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn about the sounds in words. Therefore, we must not ignore phonemic awareness skills in our classrooms. At the same time, we can’t spend a lot of time on doing phonemic-awareness lessons. Phonemic awareness instruction should ideally be presented in small pockets of as little as around ten minutes per day.

Mentioned below are some quick, fun, and easy phonemic awareness activities that are perfectly suited for any early childhood classroom.

Listening: One of the most critical components of phenomic awareness is listening. Don’t skip this part assuming that young children already know how to listen. It is natural for them to not understand the meaning of listening closely and this is what we need to teach them.

Teachers can start their phonemic-awareness activities by bringing their attention to noises. In a school building, it is common to hear sounds and noises caused by teachers talking, doors losing, air-conditioners, etc. Talk about these sounds and get the kids interested in this activity of spotting sounds around them.

Rhyming:  This is an excellent phenomic awareness activity because most children can grasp this idea easily. Rhyming helps children understand that all sounds in a language have a meaning and certain patterns are followed by them. The best and easiest way for teachers to introduce this activity is by reading rhyming songs, poems, and books.

Syllables: Identifying the syllables within different words is another important part of phenomic awareness. This activity helps students understand how we can split-up the words into smaller parts, depending on their sounds. For younger children, begin with larger parts of words and gradually work your way towards the smaller ones.

If you have more questions about your kid’s early childhood education needs, please feel free to contact us at WillowBee.