Sound Play Makes all the Difference for your Child’s Literacy Learning

Now that your child has started school, are you wondering how they are growing in terms of their ability to read and write?  Children need to have the basics first!  We call the basic building blocks of reading and writing, ‘phonological awareness skills’.  This term refers to a child’s sound awareness, or their dawning understanding that words can rhyme, that they are made up of syllables and sounds, which can be changed around, broken up into parts and deleted to make new words or series of sounds.


Phonological awareness abilities have a general pattern of development, which is outlined below:


By Kindy, children can generally:

¨  Count how many words make up a sentence (e.g. ‘I / like / my / dog’ = 4 words)

¨  Detect rhyming words (e.g. “Yes, ‘see’ rhymes with ‘tree’”!)

¨  Make up series of words that rhyme (e.g. ‘mug’, ‘tug’, ‘bug’ . . . )

¨  Identify whether sounds are the same or different (e.g. ‘Are /p/ and /b/ the same?’).


By Prep, children can generally:

¨  Count the number of syllables in words by clapping (e.g. ‘gir-affe’ = 2 syllables; ‘croc-o-dile’ = 3 syllables)

¨  Matching alphabet letters with their corresponding sounds (e.g. The letter S makes the sound ‘sss’)

¨  Work out the first sound in a word (e.g. What sound does ‘bird’ start with? Yes /b/

¨  Work out the last sound in a word (e.g. What sound can you hear at the end of ‘duck’?  Yes /k/).


By Grade 1, children can generally:

¨  Blend together sounds that make up a simple word (e.g. ‘What do these sounds say? . . . ‘d’-‘o’-‘g’ You’re right, it’s dog)

¨  Break up simple words into sounds (e.g. “What are all of the sounds in ‘tap’”? . . . ‘t’-‘a’-‘p’).


Children who can separate out the individual sounds in words and blend them back together again more easily learn how the alphabet is used for reading and spelling.  They don’t have to rely on their memory of what words look like, which can easily become exhausted with the amount of words there are to learn.

Children very early in their schooling, also learn the following skills in manipulating words:

¨  Breaking up more difficult words containing consonant blends (e.g. “What are all of the sounds in ‘clap’”? . . . ‘c’-‘l’-‘a’-‘p’)

¨  Taking away sounds in words in order to make a new word, including those with consonant blends (e.g. ‘coat’ take away the /c/ leaves ‘oat’; and ‘bright’ take away the /b/ leaves ‘right’)

¨  Adding sounds to either the beginning, middle or end of words in order to make a new word (e.g. Add /t/ to the end of ‘ten’ = ‘tent’)

¨  Changing sounds to make a new word (e.g. “Say ‘bank’. Change the /k/ sound to a /d/ sound” = ‘band’)

¨  Moving sounds around in a word to make a new word (e.g. ‘tip’ to ‘pit’).


It is important to expose your child to as much sound and word play and as many books as possible so that your child has the best possible foundation for reading and spelling.  Expose to them the concept of reading from left to right and the concept that ‘letters’ are things we ‘see’ and ‘write’ and ‘sounds’ are things we ‘hear’ and ‘say’.  Play around with sounds and words as you drive along in the car or at the dinner table!


If you are not sure how your child is progressing or they don’t seem to be keeping up, please consider consulting a Speech Pathologist.  They are the professionals specially trained in identifying early sound difficulties and who can address any concerns in regards to your child’s literacy learning.  Your child may need careful monitoring if there has been a history of late talking or difficulties with pronouncing speech sounds, particularly if these have been untreated and are still evident at prep entry.  For a screening of your child’s phonological awareness abilities or to ask any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Tyquin Group Speech Pathology on (07) 3399 8028.