• Claire

What on earth is phonological awareness?! And why is it important?

At Alphatots Sounds & Signs we have fun with lots of activities that develop important skills in the little ones (aged 0-2) who attend, but it's not always obvious to the grown-ups exactly what those skills might be! One of the main skills we develop is called phonological awareness, which is a really useful skill to have when it comes to reading when the children are older. But what exactly is it?

Well, it's all to do with listening skills and sound recognition, which then helps with recognising the sounds that different letters make - ie phonics. If you can recognise the difference between different sounds in the environment (eg between a car and a plane), and in music (different instruments), and between the different words/tones/rhythms of the language around you, the neurological pathways formed in your brain will enable you to more easily differentiate between letter sounds. For more info on that, see our lovely animated explainer video above!

Phonological awareness also includes recognition of rhyme, alliteration (the repetition of the same sound at the starts of words following on from each other), and syllables. Why are these useful for reading? Well, alliteration is great in the early years as it helps tiny tots practise recognising the sounds that words start with, which is what they'll do when it comes to 'segmenting' - i.e. listening to a word and breaking it down into its constituent sounds in order to work out how to spell it. Bippity Boppity Bumblebee, and some of our Alphatots stories, helps our Sounds & Signs participants with alliteration.

Moving onto rhyme: if a child sees 'day' written down and knows what it says, then sees 'bay' written but doesn't immediately know it, then realising that it ends with the same letters and therefore must rhyme with 'day' can help them to work it out. So the rhyming stories and Magic Box rhyming game at Alphatots Sounds & Signs are great for that!

As for recognising syllables (at Alphatots Sounds & Signs the lovely Bippity Boppity Bumblebee helps us all to hear how many syllables there are in our names), again this is great for segmenting. An older child may struggle to spell a long word such as 'supermarket' but if they are already familiar with breaking a word down into smaller chunks, they'll find it easier to spell out each chunk and then put them together!

So if you come along to Alphatots Sounds & Signs, now you'll be able to see the science and research behind the fun!! Sessions restart on 3rd September, and are now running in Altrincham, Sale (new venue, now on Wednesdays), Urmston, and Wilmslow! You can book your place here!