Effective Practice Guides

Phonological Awareness: Improve


Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge to help children demonstrate awareness that spoken language is composed of smaller segments of sound is important work. Here are some ideas you can try with your coach or supervisor to build your teaching practices in this area:

Planning Goals and Action Steps

  • Work with your coach or supervisor to identify the teaching practices you want to build and strengthen. Here are some practices that help preschoolers demonstrate awareness that spoken language is composed of smaller segments of sound.1
    • ​​​​Lead language games that assist children in developing phonological awareness (e.g., compound words, syllables, beginning sounds, rhyming words, blending units of sound into words). Model and explain as needed.
    • Use similarities between phonemes (individual sounds) in English and children’s home languages for phonological awareness learning experiences.
    • Sing songs and read books and poems aloud that help children develop phonological awareness. Identify the rhymes in songs, books, and poems.
    • Play with sounds by adding new verses to a familiar song, chant, or rhyme.
    • Use phonological awareness experiences for transitions (e.g., send children whose names begin with /s/ to wash their hands).
    • Discuss rhyming words and words that begin with the same sound.
  • These practices may also be used to support dual language learners (DLLs) in continuing to develop their home language and to acquire English. For more information, see:
  • In home-based programs, consider identifying and including broader relationship-building practices such as those described in Building Partnerships: Guide to Developing Relationships with Families.
  • Create an action plan with timelines to help you use the practices consistently and effectively.

Focused Observation

  • Revisit the teaching practice that you outlined in your planning goals and action steps with your coach/supervisor. Together, plan for and schedule an observation where they can focus on how you implement the practices you’ve identified.
    • For example, if you chose to focus on the practice, Use phonological awareness experiences for transitions,you might arrange for your coach/supervisor to observe transitions at different times of day (e.g., leaving circle time, prepping for lunch) to watch your use of word sound experiences and songs. Your coach/supervisor can also watch for children’s responses to provide additional feedback about children who might be struggling to follow the direction of the activity or stay engaged. This information can help you modify the experience for children who need a slower or faster pace or additional exposure to letter sounds throughout the day.
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how the home visitor engages with parents to identify, adapt, and use the identified teaching and relationship-building practices. They may also focus on how you model the practices.

Reflection and Feedback

  • What went well? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? How did their reaction support the relationship with their child? Their child’s ability to demonstrate awareness that spoken language (e.g., home language, heritage language, English) is composed of smaller segments of sound?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? Their child?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • Did your coach/supervisor offer feedback from the observation that was surprising? What supports do you need from her to refine and strengthen the practice? What else would help you strengthen the practice?
  • What would you do differently if you were to use this practice again?
  • What do you hope the child/children/parents will gain by using this practice? How will you know?

1California Department of Education, California Preschool Curriculum Framework Volume 1 (Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education, 2010), 137–139, Phonological Awareness, http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/documents/psframeworkkvol1.pdf [PDF, 8.8MB].

Topic:School Readiness

Resource Type: Article

Last Updated: January 23, 2019