Helping Your Child With Reading: Phonemic Awareness

Helping Your Child With Reading: Phonemic Awareness


learn-921255__340-cc0_pixabayPhonemic awareness is the foundation of reading success; however, many parents have no idea what it even is. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in words without the association with specific letters. One way to think about phonemic awareness activities is that you should be able to do them in the dark. There is no need to read or use letters, just sounds.


Your child should begin to understand basic phonemic awareness concepts like rhyming and initial sounds around the age of three. As they advance in the understanding, most kids should master more complex skills like segmentation and substitution around the age of five or six.


Even older children will still need phonemic awareness skills like phoneme and syllable segmentation to read and spell more complex words. If your child struggles with phonemic awareness, it is very likely that they will have reading difficulties.


mosaic-booksHere are a few activities you can do to help your child develop phonemic awareness:


  • Rhyming games: ask your child to produce words that rhyme with ______. This is a great activity because you can do it anywhere. I often play this with my four-year-old while we drive to school. You can also increase the difficulty by making it a game for points where you take turns and whoever cannot come up with a rhyme loses.


  • Beginning, middle, and ending sounds: Knowing the first sound in a word is important to develop reading skills later. You can say a word and ask your child to repeat the first sound (important note, this is about sounds, NOT letters. If you say bird your child should say the /b/ sound, not the letter name b). You can repeat this activity with middle and ending sounds. If you are feeling ambitious you can also do initial sound sorts. You can purchase them online or you can create your own. Basically you find objects or pictures that have the same beginning sound. Your child would take two to four beginning sounds, mix them up, and sort them. You can also do this with middle and ending sounds for an extra challenge.


  • Segmenting and blending sounds: According to many experts, these are the most important phonemic awareness skills when it comes to reading development. Children must be able to stretch out sounds in words and put them back together. An easy way to do this is to say a word like cat and have your child tell you the sounds (important note, your child should say /k/ /a/ /t/ the sounds, not spell the word cat). You can also say the sounds in a word and ask your child to put it back together. Another way to practice is to use rubber bands. Have your child hold a rubber band on their thumbs and literally stretch the sounds in a word. Then they can put it back together by blending it into a word. You can also use blocks or other objects you have around the house. Line up the objects and say a word. Have your child pull down an object as they say each sound. The number of objects should match the number of sounds.


748fa-alphabet-1219546__340252c2bcc0_pixabayPracticing these phonemic awareness skills with your child will strengthen their understanding of the foundational elements of reading. If you have an older child who struggles with reading, you might try some of these activities to see if they are able to do them.


If you child struggles with these activities or other phonemic awareness skills, it is imperative that you get them help from a reading professional. Without phonemic awareness skills, your child will always struggle with reading.


Our online tutoring program offers phonemic awareness support with each and every session. Our trained clinicians understand this foundation concept and can use it to help with reading and spelling at every level. If you want to learn more or need to know more about phonemic awareness, contact our office today.




Becky Welsch


Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.

Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy.
Becky has experience with early literacy skills like phonics and phonemic awareness development. She has used several structured literacy programs including Language! and Spalding phonics. She is also trained to administer DIBELS tests and has worked with the DIBELS Next reading remediation program.

Do I Like Him?

Fun fact about me, I hate putting away laundry. Really, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t hate putting away laundry, but I hate it to the point that I will procrastinate doing it for weeks. I end up with a dirty pile and a clean pile in my basket. The other night it was finally time to put the clothes away because I needed the basket to put dirty laundry in so I could transport it to the washer. Instead of putting laundry away, I decided to look things up on the internet. I don’t even remember what I was googling, but I typed in “do I” and the auto-fill response was “do I like him quiz” I looked over at my unfolded laundry and decided that my time would be better spent finding out if I like my husband.

So, I clicked the link and was taken to a quiz on It was titled “Do you like him? (for girls only).” Hold up: girls only? What if my husband needs to figure out how he feels about his new boss? Or my brother needs to know if he and his new roommate are going to be besties for life? What about a gay man who needs to figure out how he feels about his boyfriend? These are complicated questions that can obviously only be answered by an online quiz and clearly these poor individuals will have to do a lot more google digging than I did to find out. Strike one internet, strike one.


I get to the first question: photo 1

I think about my husband. I mean, I am usually happy to see him but I don’t generally point at him. Also, I never hope “he’d seen it” about anything because my grammar is better than that, so the only choice I’m left with is “who cares?” I guess that is probably the most accurate answer. I mean, the question isn’t asking me how I react when I see him and he has cooked dinner, cleaned the house, and gotten the kids to bed.

I get a few more questions in and then I get to this beauty: photo 2

I’m not sure what this question is asking. During the course of a day he interacts with many different women and I generally don’t care. I’m not sure the profanity is necessary in this situation but I certainly don’t internet yell at him like choice one would indicate and I don’t question my own self-worth. So I guess number two is the best choice. Although I think there should be an option for “go on with my daily life and don’t think twice about it.” That is how I would “reacts.”

Then I get to question number 7. You can’t read the question but it asks what you do if he likes your best friend. Here are the answer choices: photo 3

Yea, ummm…What? Kill my best friend? Why is that even a choice? I mean, unless I took a quiz to find out that I didn’t actually like her. Then maybe that’s the best option.

Then we get to question 9 about text message replies. Apparently how you respond to a seemingly innocuous question tells a lot about your true feelings.

photo 4

I chose number 3 because the other choices kind of make you sound like a psychopath. Like for reals.

Then we get to this gem:

photo 5

What is with these answer choices? I can get defensive about saying that I never liked him (I am taking a quiz to find out, I think the answer is implied). Or I can get defensive about him being a good guy. Here’s a spoiler alert everyone, if you have to defend your significant other and tell people he is better than they think he is, he is probably not in fact better than they think he is. (I only say “he” because this is a quiz clearly meant for ladies to figure out if they like men. Remember to stay away heterosexual bromances and boys who like boys). So, I went with option 1.

My results? I like my husband, the quiz can tell. And I still have unfolded laundry.

Good news honey! I like you, even though I wouldn't murder my friends for you....Or put your laundary away

Good news honey! I like you, even though I wouldn’t murder my friends for you….Or put your laundry away

Letters To My Two Year Old: Dear W

This smile can hide a lot of devious intentions...

This smile can hide a lot of devious intentions…

I am so excited to announce that I am going to be running a series for the next few weeks called “Letters To My Two Year Old!” I have some amazing guest authors lined up. Everyone from bloggers, to amazing moms I have met online, to personal friends will be writing their thoughts to their favorite two year old monster (I mean, toddler).

I am creating this series for a couple of reasons. One being that two is a hard age (I hear three is worse, so don’t even tell me about that because I might start crying). Two is an age filled with tantrums, time outs, limit testing, hitting, biting, scratching. It is an age when your little darling suddenly turns into a rage filled beast. Sometimes I find myself going through old pictures of my son just to remind myself of how cute and precious he was. (Side note, this is a habit I got from my mom. Anytime you came home to find her with the photo album out, you knew you were in TROUBLE).

He really was precious, wasn' t he?

He really was precious, wasn’ t he?

Another reason is that, for as hard as two is, it is amazing. It is an age filled with discovery, adventures, new firsts, hugs, kisses, words, giggles, and games. I want to remember the beauty of this age. I may need it for reference when my son is a teenager.

I love watching him discover new things, like giraffes

I love watching him discover new things, like giraffes

And "snow."

And “snow.”

I am going to get things started with my letter to my little man.

Dear W,

There are plenty of letters and blogs dedicated to children that are about lessons and the important things in life. This is not one of those. Yes, I want you to dance, and sing, and find happiness. But those will come in time. Right now, I just want to remember a snap shot of your life from a few days ago.

It was a Thursday, in May.

Today was a tough day. It was a daycare day and you were angry about waking up. You thrashed, yelled, and threw things. You cried and clung to me when we got there. You only wanted daddy when I picked you up. You were mad at me and you were jealous of baby. You head butted her. You hit me. You threw a truck at me when I was feeding her. You were in time out twice in less than an hour. I tried to hug you but you pushed away.

At bedtime, you asked to get up. Against my better judgment, I let you. I am glad I did because that is when it happened. The perfect, small moment. We were sitting on the floor together. You were playing with your vinyl car “stickies.” I was helping you straighten them and rubbing your back. You looked at me, smiled and said “mommy.” In that moment, the stress of the morning disappeared. The tantrums were forgotten, the time outs a thing of the past. In that moment, I was complete. I love you. Forever and always.


What about you? What are some precious moments you want to remember?
If you would like to participate in the series, please contact me via my Facebook page.

Is My Toddler Gifted?

This is obviously the face of a genius. Probably an evil genius, but a genius nonetheless.

This is obviously the face of a genius. Probably an evil genius, but a genius nonetheless.

I read a statistic the other day that “is my toddler gifted” is one of the most googled phrases. So, I decided to see, is my toddler gifted? Let’s evaluate:
A gifted child has a favorite TV show by the age of 1.
This sign of enhanced intellectual ability clearly goes against the “don’t let your child watch any TV until he is two. Otherwise you will rot his brain and he will never learn. EVER” mentality that is the current AAP recommendation for screen time. However, I will openly admit here that my son was a Mickey Mouse junkie by the age of 10 months. He loves that mouse. And if one show by the age of 1 is an indication of advanced intellectualy ability, having 3,000 favorite movies by the age of two certainly confirms it.

A gifted child can sit still and enjoy TV programs by the age of 1.
Ummm….yea. I think I covered my use of the electronic babysitter in the above answer.

Awwww...He really does love him some Mickey.

Awwww…He really does love him some Mickey.

Interested in time by age 2.
If by time you mean avoiding bedtime and naptime at all costs, then yes, my son is VERY interested in time.

Long attention span in interest areas by age 2.
The other day, my son played with vinyl stickers for two hours. He is obsessed with his stickers. To the point that we have to take them away at bedtime because he won’t sleep. They are also the first thing he asks for in the morning. The other day when I picked him up at daycare I asked him “guess who is at home?” His answer, “STICKIES!” The correct response was daddy. But he is chopped liver compared to stickies. So in short, yes, he has a long attention span.

He lays these out and puts them away several times a day. For hours. And gets obsessively upset if one of them gets folded.

He lays these out and puts them away several times a day. For hours. And gets obsessively upset if one of them gets folded.

Extraordinary feats of memory.
Not really sure what they mean by this, but if it includes remembering exactly where you put each sticker or hot wheel car the night before, then yes, my son has a pretty good memory. However, take this with a grain of salt because I am so sleep deprived I routinely throw my cell phone away or lose my sunglasses on the top of my head. I may not have an accurate perspective on what constitutes an “extraordinary” memory.

We hid these for him for Easter. He checked for more in the same hiding spot for a week.

We hid these for him for Easter. He checked for more in the same hiding spot for a week.

Advanced language development.
My son knows about 50 words at this point. Over half of them are fictional characters that he learned because of his incredible ability to enjoy TV programs. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that does not qualify as advanced. Although I could swear that he said “fuck yes” the other day. I am so proud of him.

Reaches milestones early.
This definitely does NOT apply to my son. I remember my husband regularly having to tell me “no one crawls to work” because my son was such a late walker. And when it comes to potty training, he is pretty sure that sitting on the potty is a fate worse than death at this point. I don’t think he’ll do anything “early.” Homeboy operates on his own timeline.

Interest in puzzles.
In smashing them, yes. In completing them, no.

Appears to require less sleep than other children his age.

This is how I get through the day with my child who requires less sleep...

This is how I get through the day with my child who requires less sleep…

So, is my child gifted? Who knows. And to be honest, I can’t say that it matters to me one way or the other. What about you? Does your kiddo do any of this?

The Truth About Being a Firefighter’s Wife

This is pretty much my husband's job. Walking away from a fire shirtless.

This is pretty much my husband’s job. Walking away from a fire shirtless.

My husband is a firefighter. When most people hear that, they envision an attractive, muscly, usually shirtless man who rescues kittens from trees and poses for calendars. Well, obviously both those things, but there are some hidden and sometimes inconvenient truths to being a fire service wife. Some things I didn’t know about until they started happening to me.


This is exactly what my sprinkler looked like. And I am not prone to exaggeration. At All. So you know this is an accurate representation.

This is exactly what my sprinkler looked like. And I am not prone to exaggeration. At All. So you know this is an accurate representation.

1. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong, while he is at work. My husband works 48 hour shifts and if anything it going to break or self-destruct, it is guaranteed to do so while he is gone. For example, one time my air conditioner broke, in August. It was approximately one million degrees out and I was about 5,000 months pregnant, and I had a toddler. I was sweating like a whore in church and my toddler had bright red cheeks and would eat nothing but popsicles. Luckily there are plenty of 24 hour A/C repair places in Phoenix. When the repair man got there, I looked like a hot mess and smelled worse. He told me it was just the transistor and I could probably have my husband replace it when he got home, I shot daggers out of my eyes at him and told him just to do it, I did not care how much money it cost at that point. Another time, my drip system went on the fritz, spraying water everywhere until I came up with a jerry rigged fix using a zip tie and a rock. Yet another time I came home to a dog with a paw that was swollen to approximately the size of his head. I had to rush out the door with an infant, toddler, and limping dog to go to the vet, by myself. Not fun.


2. Your husband will always have some sort of terrible facial hair. His shift will be having a mustache, goatee, or sol patch contest and he will ALWAYS HAVE to participate. And it cannot be reasonable facial hair. That is the point. It is a joke. on his face.

The Fantasy vs. The Reality

The Fantasy vs. The Reality

3. When you have a kid, you will only get firefighter baby stuff. You want a cute elephant nursery? Too bad, you get firefighter paraphernalia. You want your kid to wear a cute sweat vest? Tough luck, here is a firefighting shirt.




I do, every night

I do, every night

4. On a related note, if you have a son, he is pretty much predestined to be a firefighter. I mean, who can blame him though? It is pretty much the third coolest job, behind space man and cowboy. My daughter might entertain the idea of being a fairy or a princess for a while, but I will not be surprised when she graduates from the fire academy.


5. Random women will hit on your husband. All.The.Time. Whether it is a drunk lady at a public event trying to solicit more than just a handshake, an old lady feeling his bicep, or a patient who takes her clothes off as soon as the paramedics get there, women seem to think that firefighters are a free pass to behave badly.

This woman will say something inappropriate to you husband later. Because she wants to jump his bones.

This woman will say something inappropriate to you husband later. Because she wants to jump his bones.

6. Your husband will never, ever remember the date for anything. Firefighters rotate on A,B, and C shifts and as result, are pretty much incapable of using a calendar. He will forget family dinners, double book weekends, and might even forget your birthday. But, he will know what day B shift is for Phoenix Fire (and he probably does not work for Phoenix Fire, nor have the same schedule as them).
7. He never leaves the fire station. Oh sure, physically he is home with you but his colorful euphemisms and language do not. Also, he will try to convince you that something called “spaghetti burritos” is a viable dinner option. They are not.
8. There will always be someone to help you move or clean out your garage. Seriously. Firefighters are some of the most helpful people that exist. They will give you the shirt off their back if you ask. Maybe that’s why they are always pictured being shirtless…