Children's Phonological Awareness: Everything you need to know

Children's Phonological Awareness: Everything you need to know

Children's Phonological Awareness: Everything you need to know

Phonological awareness is a pillar in the early development of reading and writing in the little ones, so we as those responsible for them must keep it in mind. Learning how children perceive and manipulate sounds allows us to foster or encourage effective and fun learning. In the following post we explain everything you need to know about phonological awareness, from what it is, what types there are and how to know if a child has it to what to do to promote and work on it.

What is children's phonological awareness?


Children's phonological awareness is the ability to recognize and manipulate the sounds of spoken language, a fundamental skill for learning to read, as it allows children to identify words, rhymes, syllables, etc.

Types of children's phonological awareness

Today it is considered that there are the following three types of children's phonological awareness:

Lexical awareness

It is the ability to identify and manipulate words as complete units within spoken language. It develops from the age of 2 and is characterized by the following skills:

  • Word Identification: Recognizing individual words in fluent speech.
  • Lexical segmentation: Dividing a sentence into its component words.
  • Identify rhyming words: Recognize words that have the same ending sound.
  • Identify words that begin or end the same: Recognize words that have the same beginning or ending sound.

Syllabic awareness

It is the ability to recognize, identify and manipulate syllables in words. It develops from 3/4 years old and is characterized by the following skills:

  • Syllable counting: Being able to determine how many syllables a word has.
  • Syllable segmentation: Breaking a word into its component syllables.
  • Identification of initial, middle and final syllables: Recognize the syllable that is at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of a word.
  • Reverse syllables: Manipulate the order of syllables in a word.

Phonemic awareness

It is the ability to recognize and manipulate the individual sounds (phonemes) that make up words, it develops from the age of 4 and is characterized by the following skills:

  • Phoneme Identification: Recognize individual sounds in words.
  • Phoneme isolation: Separating an individual sound from a word.
  • Phoneme blending: Putting individual sounds together to form words.
  • Phoneme Manipulation: Adding, removing, or changing individual sounds in a word.

How do you know if a child has phonological awareness?

The clearest signs that a child has phonological awareness are:

  • Rhymes: Recognize and complete rhymes. For example, if you say “cat,” he can say “rato” or “plato.”
  • Syllables: You can divide words into syllables. For example, if you say “butterfly,” he may say “ma-ri-po-sa.”
  • Beginning and ending sounds: Can identify the beginning and ending sounds of words. For example, if you ask him, “What starts with the letter 'p'?”, he might say “dog” or “duck.”
  • Sound Manipulation: You can add, remove, or change sounds in words. For example, if you say “house,” it can say “roofless house” or “big house.”

What happens if phonological awareness is not developed?

If phonological awareness does not develop adequately, there is a greater chance that the child will at some point have:

  • Difficulty recognizing words
  • Difficulty associating letters with sounds
  • Difficulty decoding words
  • Difficulty writing words correctly
  • Difficulty writing fluently
  • Demotivation for writing

Activities to develop children's phonological awareness

It has become clear that the pervasive development disorder of phonological awareness in children is essential for learning to read and write. It is through these skills that children learn to recognize, identify and manipulate the sounds of language, allowing them to understand that words are made up of smaller units (syllables and phonemes). There are numerous activities that can be done to stimulate the development of phonological awareness, we give you some examples below:

  • Sing children's songs with rhymes, make up rhymes with children's names or with everyday objects, play to guess words that rhyme with a given word.
  • Read children's stories aloud, pointing to the words as they are read, talking about the content of the story and asking the child to identify words that rhyme or begin with the same sound.
  • Clap or bang the table once for each syllable of a word, break words into syllables with claps or tokens, play word-building games with syllables.
  • Identify the initial, middle or final syllable of a word, play speed games for kids to complete words with syllables, invent new words with known syllables.
  • Add, remove or change a sound in a word to make a new word, play word transformation word games, make up new words with known sounds.

Children's phonological awareness games

Games are the most effective way to encourage or teach new skills to our children, since they make the process fun, enjoyable and reduce their frustration levels. The best games to promote phonological awareness to play with your little one are:

Lexical awareness

  • Guess the Word: A player thinks of a word and describes it to the other players using only words that rhyme with it. The other players must guess the word in question.
  • I Spy with Words: A player thinks of a word and describes it to the other players without saying it directly. The other players must guess the word by asking questions that can only be answered with “yes” or “no.”
  • Word Chain: A player says a word. The next player must say a word that begins with the final sound of the previous word. The symbolic game continues until one player cannot say a valid word.

Syllabic awareness

  • Syllabic applause: One player says a word and the other players clap once for each syllable of the word.
  • Word construction: Cards or tokens with syllables are used for children to form words. You can start with two-syllabic words and increase the difficulty gradually.
  • Hidden syllables search: Syllables are hidden in a word spoken by a player, and the others must guess how many syllables the word has and what these syllables are.

Phonemic awareness

  • Change the sound: You say a word and change one sound for another to form a new word. For example, “house” becomes “thing.”
  • Word Search: Players must find words that begin or end with a specific sound mentioned by another player.
  • Sort the words: Several words are given out of order, and players must sort them correctly based on the beginning sound, ending sound, or some other specific sound.

Examples of children's phonological awareness


Phonological awareness is not only developed through best didactic games for children and other activities, it is also present in everyday situations that provide opportunities for children to explore and manipulate the characteristic sounds of our language, for example:

Rhymes in songs and nursery rhymes

By singing songs like “Chicks Say” or reciting rhymes like “Three Sad Tigers,” children identify and enjoy rhyming words, which strengthens their ability to perceive sound similarities between words.

Word games during the game

During imaginative play, children often make up rhymes or play make-believe words that sound fun or fit the context of their play, which helps them explore different sounds and phonetic structures.

Story reading

When reading stories, our little ones are exposed to a variety of words and sounds. They can participate by identifying words that begin or end with certain sounds, or even noticing words that sound the same or different in different contexts within the story.

Guessing games and riddles

Participating in riddles and riddles where they must decipher clues based on sounds or letters encourages attention to phonological details and the ability to manipulate sounds in the mind.

Discussions about familiar words

During meals or family activities for children at home, children can discuss familiar words and explore how those words sound in different situations, such as playing with rhymes or changing sounds to create new words.

Tips to work on children's phonological awareness

Finally, we want to leave you with some simple and practical tips to keep in mind when you are trying to work on your children's phonological awareness:

  • Start early: The stimulation of phonological awareness can perfectly begin from the first years of life, even before children learn to read.
  • Create a language-rich environment: Talk to your child frequently, read stories aloud, sing nursery rhymes, and play with rhymes.
  • Take advantage of everyday situations: Turn daily tasks into opportunities to work on phonological awareness. For example, you can play a game of identifying words that begin with the same sound while going to the supermarket.
  • Adapt activities to the child's developmental level: It is important to start with simple activities for children at home and gradually increase the difficulty as the child progresses.
  • Be patient and consistent: The development of phonological awareness is a gradual process that requires time and practice. It is important to be patient with your child and practice regularly.
  • Seek help if you need it: If you are concerned about the development of your child's phonological awareness, do not hesitate to consult with a speech language specialist or an educational psychologist.

The little ones learn and interact with the world around them differently than we adults do and at Kiddus we are very clear about this. This is why we have been selling sunglasses for children  and educational watches designed specifically for them and their needs for years.


In conclusion, phonological awareness is crucial for children's academic success in their early years of education. Because of this we have to implement activities and games that develop this skill, in order to facilitate the process of learning to read and write. Keep in mind that investing time in strengthening phonological awareness not only improves language skills, but also prepares children for an educational future with fewer obstacles.

Author: Kiddus Team

At Kiddus we take pride in creating high-quality accessories for kids that are both functional and fashionable. Our team is composed of professionals in the children's industry, including designers, engineers, and child development experts. We work together to create innovative and safe products that meet the needs of both children and parents. With years of experience and a passion for quality, we strive to exceed expectations and bring joy to families around the world.

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