How to Help Kids Gain Phonological Skills

The development of phonological skills happens throughout a child’s development. In this article, we will describe the skills and the milestones that children should achieve at a given age.

This development is influenced by the schools, specifically the skill level of reading and language teachers who are equipped to teach the nitty-gritty details of reading and language acquisition. There might be some variations in the case of students with learning delays and special needs.

The Development of Phonological Skills

Phonological skills follow a sequence as it develops. This is the principle that educators use when developing lessons and teaching materials for teachers.

1.      Word awareness – a semantic language skill that has to do with being able to recognize words in sentences

2.      Responding to rhyme and alliteration – acknowledging and repeating rhyming words and alliterations commonly used in nursery rhymes and storybooks

3.      Syllable awareness – segmenting a word into syllables

4.   Rhyme manipulation – producing rhymes; this is more advanced than responding to rhymes

5.      Phoneme awareness – locate and match the sound of certain letters in a word.

The phonological skills listed above are organized from basic to advanced-level—word awareness being the most basic and phoneme awareness as the most advanced.


Critical to phonological awareness are word awareness and basic listening skills. Basic listening skills is self-explanatory. Word awareness has to do with the mastery of vocabulary words, producing simple sentences, and the ability to express one’s needs, feelings, and experience in an understandable way.

Below are the details:

·         4 years old – by this age, children would be able to imitate and be entertained by nursery rhymes and storybooks because of the rhymes and alliteration

·       5 years old – by this age, children will be able to count syllables by clapping, recognize rhymes, and phonemic changes in words. Children at 5 ½ years old can blend rhymes, produce a rhyme, distinguish between phonemes in a series.

·         6 years old – children at this age can delete rhymes and syllables within words; they can blend 2 to 3 phonemes and be able to segment phonemes. Children who are 6 ½ might be able to construct words with simple syllables.

·         7 to 9 years old – they will be able to perform a sound deletion. For 7-year-old children, it’s the initial and final position; for 8-year-old children, it’s the deletion of the initial position and blends, and for 9-year-old children, they can delete the middle and final blend position.

From 4 to 9 years old,  there are milestones of phonological awareness that can be observed. About 80% to 90% of children from each age group will have achieved the milestones described. This is just an estimate–there might be some cases where some children are a little advanced or delayed for their age.

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