Why is Phonological Awareness Important?

You’re probably wondering:

Why is phonological awareness important?

Phonological awareness is a critical skill for reading success. It includes hearing, identifying, and manipulating individual sounds in spoken words.

In this post, we’ll explain why phonological awareness is so important and list some of the different skills that fall under this umbrella term.

why is phonological awareness important featured image showing a girl sitting in the library and reading

What is phonological awareness?

Phonological awareness is the ability to identify and work with the individual sounds in spoken words.

It’s a critical building block for learning to read because it helps children understand that spoken words are made up of smaller sound units.

Students who are not phonologically aware have difficulty learning to read and spell because they cannot break words down into these smaller units of sound.

It begins developing before formal schooling starts and continues as your child progresses through school. Phonological awareness can be improved with practice.

Phonological awareness is a crucial foundation for reading, writing, spelling, and listening.

Why phonological awareness is important

Phonological awareness is a critical building block for reading and writing.

Children who cannot break words into separate sounds will have difficulty reading and spelling.

Poor phonological awareness is often a precursor to reading and speech disabilities.

Phonological awareness helps kids hear and segment words into separate sounds, an essential step in learning to read.

By hearing the individual sounds in words (phonemes), children can combine those sounds into words (blending) and separate them (segmenting).

Resulting in a better understanding of how these sounds work together to form words.

This understanding is essential for being able to read fluently.

Phonological awareness is a precursor to decoding, a critical skill for beginning readers.

Furthermore, those with difficulty with spelling often have a weakness in phonological processing.

This means they have trouble hearing and manipulating the smaller sounds within words. As a result, they may struggle to spell words correctly.

English uses an alphabetic writing system that uses sounds to represent letters, so phonological awareness is essential for learning to read and write.

Without phonological awareness, students may be lost when trying to understand how English works.

What are the skills that make up phonological awareness?

Syllable awareness

Syllable awareness is the ability to break a word down into its individual syllables.


Rhyme awareness

Rhyme awareness is the ability to identify words that share the same ending sound. This includes being able to generate words that rhyme with a given word. For example, if presented with the word “cat,” a child who has rhyme awareness would be able to list words such as “bat,” “hat,” and “rat.”



Alliteration is the repetition of initial sounds in words. For example, “Sally sells seashells by the seashore.”

Onset-Rime segmentation

Onset-Rime segmentation is breaking down a word into its onset (consonant sound before the vowel) and rime (the string of sounds, including the vowel to the end of the word). This is a crucial skill for beginning readers.


Phonemic awareness

Phonemic awareness is a subcategory of phonological awareness. It’s the ability to focus on and manipulate individual phonemes in spoken words.


Initial and final sound segmentation

Initial sound segmentation is the ability to hear and identify the first sound in a word. In contrast, final sound segmentation is the ability to identify and produce the last sound in a word.



A crucial phonological awareness skill is blending sounds into words. When children blend, they can take separate sounds and put them together to make a word.


Deleting and segmenting

Segmenting words into sounds is the ability to hear and manipulate the individual sounds, or phonemes, that make up a word.
This phonological awareness skill involves identifying the sounds in words and then deleting or swapping those sounds to make new words.


Developing your child’s phonological awareness skills is crucial

You can play several activities and games at home to help your child with phonological awareness. And, as always, be sure to consult with your child’s doctor or a speech-language pathologist if you have any concerns.