Phonemic awareness is an important pre-reading skill. More specifically, it is an underlying component of phonological awareness. It is the understanding and ability to process individual speech sounds, so that they can be broken down (segmented), blended together (decoded) and rearranged or substituted (manipulated).
Phonemic awareness is important in literacy development. It facilitates a person's ability to read and comprehend words, and also helps individuals when they are learning to spell. Some examples of phonemic awareness activities include:
identifying words that start with the same sound (e.g. sun, sock and soup all start with 's')
recognizing and saying the first or last sound in a word (e.g. sock starts with 's' and ends with 'k')
pulling apart a word into separate sounds (e.g. identifying that "dog" is made of 3 sounds - /d/ - /o/ - /g/)
blending separate sounds to make up and say a word (e.g. taking /c/-/a/-/t/ and blending the sounds together to make "cat")
Children who struggle with phonemic awareness may have difficulty learning to read and spell. A Speech-Language Pathologist can help!