Phonemic awareness is one of the quintessential building blocks of one's reading skills. Phonemic awareness refers to one's ability to recognize and manipulate the smallest units of sound in words (a.k.a. phonemes). As children build their reading skills, awareness of phonemes is combined with knowledge of graphemes (a.k.a. the smallest units of written language that represent phonemes). Together, this knowledge builds students' overall phonological awareness and helps move students up the ladder of fluency.
In order for emerging readers to grow in their literacy skills, it is imperative that they have a strong foundation in phonemic awareness. Skill deficits in this area will negatively impact student performance in not only the early grades but also later in schooling.
Research shows that explicit, systematic phonics instruction produces the best results for reading. When students struggle in any grade, this type of intervention is necessary. That means students are receiving a program of instruction that addresses phonemic awareness in an ordered, logical, and explicit way.
View the video below for an example of explicit, systematic instuction in phonemic awareness:
Here I demonstrate one more strategy for building phonological awareness, called "Drive-Thru Blending" :