When we introduce the concept of phonemic awareness to parents they often ask, “well isn’t that the same as phonics?” to which we say, to their surprise, no!
Phonemic Awareness and Phonics are two separate, but key factors in learning to read. And what, might you ask, is the difference between them?
What is Phonics?
Phonics is the relationship between printed letters and the sounds they make. In English, Phonics requires the memorization of 26 letters and approximately 98 letter sound combinations. This takes memorizing and practicing until all combinations are quick and automatic.
What is Phonemic Awareness?
Phonemic Awareness only involves auditory activities. Students are taught to recognize phonemes, or tiny speech sounds, and learn to manipulate them, without yet attaching them to the letters they represent.
Phonemic Awareness is considered a meta-cognitive skill. Once the concept is learned, it can be generalized to other words.
Why is Phonemic Awareness so Important?
Phonemic Awareness is a foundational skill that is critical for learning to read. In English phonemes are mapped onto letters that we use for reading and spelling.
Reading involves mapping a spatial sequence of letters, from left to right, onto a temporal sequence of phonemes, organized from first to last.
Spelling involves a similar process but in the other direction. In order to spell, the child must be able to go from sound to print.
This is what makes Phonemic Awareness so important.
We often get new clients that have been receiving tutoring but are not making progress. Once we complete testing we often find that they are lacking the crucial skills for reading and spelling. These skills include, rhyming, isolating sounds, blending, segmenting and manipulating sounds.
If you feel your child is struggling with either of these concepts book a chat with us to get them screened or evaluated for dyslexia.