Speech Therapy Resources for Parents: Phonological Awareness

Speech Therapy Resources for Parents: Phonological Awareness

What is Phonological Awareness and Why Does it Matter?

Simply stated, Phonological Awareness is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate individual sounds in spoken words. As it is a skill commonly targeted in Speech & Language Therapy, it is a popular subject for speech therapy parent resources.

Phonological Awareness typically begins developing in preschool and is an important precursor to reading and spelling. Phonological Awareness skills continue to develop through formal reading instruction (up through about 1st grade).

The good news is that if your child struggles with reading or spelling, he or she can benefit from specific treatment in Phonological Awareness, regardless of age and grade level. There are many speech therapy resources for parents to assist in developing your child’s Phonological Awareness.

Read on to learn more about speech therapy parent resources for this important skill set and how your child’s Speech-Language Pathologist provides Phonological Awareness instruction.

Speech Therapy Resources for Parents: Phonological Awareness

How Does My Child’s Speech-Language Pathologist Teach Phonological Awareness?

Here’s where things get a little technical. Feel free to skim over this section and move on to how to teach your child phonological awareness skills for some fun speech therapy parent resource suggestions.

When teaching Phonological Awareness, the sequence of speech therapy instruction and intervention, from order of least complex to most complex skills, is as follows:

  1. Dividing words into syllables,
  2. Identifying and creating rhymes,
  3. Matching words with the same beginning sound (alliteration),
  4. Breaking up syllables of words into onset and rime,
  5. Identifying the first and last sound in a word,
  6. Blending individual sounds into words,
  7. Separating words into their individual sounds (“segmenting”),
  8. Deleting and manipulating (i.e., changing) sounds in words.

(Source: LSHSS)

Phonological Awareness vs Phonemic Awareness

You may have also heard the term “Phonemic Awareness” before. Phonemic Awareness is a smaller subset of the broader category of Phonological Awareness.

Phonemic awareness contains the more complex knowledge skills, from breaking up the syllables of words into their onset (all sounds before the first vowel) and rime (the vowel and the sounds after the vowel) through deleting and manipulating the sounds in words.

Okay, glad we got through all that.

The good news is, Phonological Awareness and Phonemic Awareness can be taught and improves with practice! 

Your child’s Speech-Language Pathologist may already be working on these skills in therapy. It may be helpful to speak with your child’s therapist to determine the most helpful game plan for targeting Phonological Awareness and Phonemic Awareness at home. 

Still, don’t be discouraged by the seeming complexity of this process. There are plenty of speech therapy parent resources for Phonological Awareness intervention that are fun, easy, and support your child’s progress in speech therapy.

Speech Therapy Resources for Parents: Phonological Awareness

How Do I Teach My Child Phonological Awareness using Speech Therapy Parent Resources?

Helping to develop your child’s phonological and phonemic awareness skills can make a huge impact on their success in school as they are so closely connected to reading and writing and general language skills.

I love this speech therapy parent resource handout from Mrs. Rainbow Bright, which you can download for free from her Teachers Pay Teachers store. It contains simple instructions for fun Phonological Awareness activities that you can practice anywhere with your kids – at home, in the car, at the playground; you get the idea.

Some additional parent speech therapy resources for parents are listed below according to the Phonological Awareness skill set. 

Speech Therapy Parent Resources for Syllables and Rhyming Skills

Two of the earliest emerging, and most straightforward Phonological Awareness skills to teach are rhyme and syllables.

A simple speech therapy parent resource to help your child learn about syllables, or the “beat” of words, is by “clapping it out.” Say their name or a word. “Strawberry.” You all clap at each syllable, straw-ber-ry.

There are lots of options for rhyming word speech therapy resources for parents. It’s fun to help your child develop their rhyming skill through exposure to rhyming words and practice. Rhyming skills can be encouraged by:

  1. Reciting Nursery Rhymes,
  2. Listening to Kid-Friendly Songs with Rhymes,
  3. Reading Rhyming Books Together, and
  4. Playing games with Rhyming Words or Phrases.

ASHA  has a full-list of resources for each of these rhyming skill activities and this particular page is an excellent source of parent speech therapy resources.

In addition, I suggest you check out PBS Kids for a wonderful collection of beloved children’s rhyming books. Another great parent speech therapy resource is a A Teachable Teacher’s list of rhyming books for younger kids. What’s more, you can check out Fun-A-Day for many creative games for practicing rhyming skills.

An additional rhyming book for preschool kids that you can access with an Epic! Account, free to  parents and teachers, is Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow.

Speech Therapy Resources for Parents: Phonological Awareness

Speech Therapy Parent Resources for Identifying Sounds in Words

If your child is working on identifying individual sounds in words there are plenty of speech therapy parent resource games to try. A popular and easy way to teach beginning and ending sounds, is the classic game, I Spy.

For alliteration, or identifying words with the same beginning sound, choose a target sound to focus on. For example, you can tell your child, “the word cat starts with the /k/ sound, k-k-kat.” Go around the room and point to other words that start with the /k/ sound (calendar, kitchen, candy). 

Once your child is comfortable, ask him or her to help you find other words starting with this sound. 

Once this skill is mastered, play the modified game of I Spy  to move on to words with the same final sounds. This game is great for maximizing your time on long car rides too!

Speech Therapy Parent Resources for Segmenting and Blending Words

When your child is ready to start segmenting, blending and manipulating phonemes, the therapy practice becomes a bit more complicated, and it can help to speak with your child’s Speech-Language Pathologist about how to best proceed.

In general though, when your child is ready to blend, or bring together sounds to form a word, it’s best to start with the simple words first. Separate the sounds in each word slowly and with a pause in between (e,.g., ‘rock’ is “r . . . ah . . . k”). Model using your fingers to represent each separate sound. Note that the number of letters often does not correspond with the number of sounds (e.g., “th,” “ch,” “sh” and many double vowels are only one sound).

When practicing blending sounds together to form words, again, start with the least complex words and move on from there. Model using your fingers to represent each sound. For example, seperate word t . . .oy, putting up one finger for the /t/ sound and the second finger up for “oy.” “If I combine those two sounds, I have the word ‘toy,’ what word do I have if I combine /t/ and ‘oy’”?

Speech Therapy Parent Resources for Deleting and Manipulating Sounds in Words

In order to assist your child in practicing the deletion of sounds in words, once again start with simple words and ask your child to remove the first sound. For example, if I remove the /k/ sound in “cop,” I am left with “op.” 

Move on to the final sound in words before asking your child to manipulate, or change the sounds in words. 

Sound manipulation would look like this, “if I changed the /k/ sound in “cop” with a /b/ sound, I would end up with “bop,” what word do I end up with if I changed the /k/ sound in “cop” with a /b/”?

Speech Therapy Resources for Parents: Phonological Awareness

In Closing: Practice, But Make Sure it’s Enjoyable

Remember, the more you practice phonological awareness skills with your child, the better she’ll or he’ll become. 

Whatever you do, though, the most important consideration is that the child is enjoying herself or himself.

Incorporate games, stories, songs and rhymes that the child likes and make sure you don’t pressure your child to work on tasks that are too difficult for him or her as this may become discouraging and thwart progress. As always, you may want to consult your child’s Speech-Language Pathologist for further information and help with determining your child’s skill level.

For more speech therapy parent resources, check out our “Parent Resources” Speech Therapist Tools category and our blog post, “Speech Therapy Resources for Parents: Story Retell.”

Special thanks to Josh Applegate, Kelly sikkema, Sai de silva and tookapik for the use of their photos for this article.

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