Learn what works

Phonological awareness is the understanding of different ways that oral language can be divided into smaller components and manipulated (Chard, 1999). Phonological awareness involves an understanding of larger units of sounds in spoken language, such as words, syllables, and onsets and rhymes, without concentrating on the meaning. Becoming phonologically aware prepares children for later reading instruction, including instruction in phonics, word analysis, and spelling.

Phonological awareness should be developed through purposeful planning and instruction. This instruction, from preschool through first grade, should be age appropriate and engaging–often involving rhyming, songs, and word play. Initial instruction should be in the areas of alliteration and rhyming, and move to the more complex tasks of segmenting and blending. For additional detail on the sequence of instruction, see the page on the phonological awareness continuum.

Instruction should not be in isolation, but rather should be taught concurrently with phonemic awareness, phonics, and comprehension through connected text.

Do what works

Bee Ready to Read Website

Florida Center for Reading Research:  This site offers teacher guides and resources for phonological awareness and other areas of literacy; it is targeted toward grades K-1.


  • Chard, D. (1999). Phonological Awareness: Instructional and Assessment Guidelines. Intervention in School & Clinic, 34(5), 261. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
  • Children’s Learning Institute Website
  • Opitz, M. (2000). Rhymes and Reasons: Literature & Language Play for Phonological Awareness. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  • Morrow, L. (2009). Literacy Development in the Early Years Helping Children Read and Write (6th Edition). Boston, MA: Pearson.