The English language is a very complex yet interesting subject. The complexity of this language can make it difficult to learn, which is why the educational process for children begins so early. We strongly believe that the pre-grammar school years for children are the most crucial ones. Having the ability to visually recognize as well as sound out words at a young age is vital to a child’s literacy development.
Children are naturally intuitive and can pick up on new concepts quickly. This gives them the ability to comprehend the concept of phonics and phonemic awareness.
Although both of these concepts are connected and work together, they possess two different principles which we will discuss further in this article.
What is Phonemic Awareness?
Phonological awareness is an essential skill needed to fully master the concept of reading. It is the ability to comprehend that our language is broken down into words, and those same words are broken down into single sounds known as phonemes. Most people believe that acquiring reading skills begins with having the ability to sound out words and letters. However, phonemic awareness is actually one of the last literary skills that children typically learn.
The complexity of the English language is incredibly evident. With 26 alphabetical letters, 44 phonemes, and 250 ways to spell phonemes, it is essential for children to develop phonemic awareness early on in their studies.
Phonological ability is so important, that without it, children do not have the ability to recognize simple letters or words. For example, if you ask a child the first letter in the word “cat,” they may answer by mimicking the sound a cat makes, instead of the letter “C.” Children with low phonological awareness may struggle more with reading and writing than children who have high phonological awareness.
Phonemic awareness is made up of individual sound units called phonemes. Each phoneme has different articulatory features. Articulators are used to shape your mouth while forming sound. The main articulators are the upper lip, tongue, lower lip, upper teeth, upper gum ridge, hard palate, velum, uvula, pharyngeal wall and glottis.
In PK3 and 4 at Annapolis Christian Academy, we read classical books that accompany our themes. Fables and nursery rhymes provide a rich literature time allowing pre-reading skills to develop such as recalling details, vocabulary and the main idea. The children learn the letter names and sounds through activities such as singing.
Here are a few examples of phonemes in a word:
- The word ‘bat’ has three phonemes: b/a/t
- The word ‘moat’’ has three phonemes: m/ō/t
- The word ‘she’ has only two phonemes: sh/e
With phonemic awareness, we emphasize the repetition of words through our daily classroom activities, which focus primarily on oral language.
Phonemic awareness can be a challenging concept for students to fully understand. Our professionally trained and certified preschool teachers at Annapolis Christian Academy emphasize that phonemes and articulators are essential to connect the various sounds through continuous exposure to a wide variety of information and literacy-rich materials.
Let’s Talk About Phonics
Phonics, put simply, is the relationship between sounds and letters. This concept may seem so simple to a native English speaker, but to some, the relationship between sounds and letters is very complex. This is why we begin teaching the concept of phonics so early in a child’s educational career.
At Annapolis Christian Academy, our goal is to teach our preschoolers the most commonly used sounds and letters in order for them to master their vocabulary and develop strong communication skills in the future. We have specific time on your child’s schedule dedicated to the study of phonics in order to help them sound out words and decode their meanings.
We provide structured and systematic phonics programs which incorporate a variety of phonics games and activities to maintain student engagement and reach their learning goals.
The Difference between Phonemic Awareness and Phonics
Phonics is the relationship between written letters and sounds, whereas phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in spoken words. Despite the differences in these two language learning skills, phonemic awareness and phonics are connected and work together in unison.
Phonemic Awareness and phonics are both incredibly important skills that are crucial to language development in children. This is why choosing the right preschool for your child is vital to ensure a solid educational foundation for their future.
At Annapolis Christian Academy, our pre-K program provides a loving, Christian environment designated to foster children spiritually, cognitively, physically and socially. Our gifted teachers lead their student-centered classrooms, modeling the fruits of the spirit and giving children the time needed to explore, to play and to contribute to the learning. We strive to teach all new concepts visually, auditory and kinesthetically. Please check out our website to learn more about our daily activities and teaching practices. We look forward to hearing from you.