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 Love Him?

Do I Love Him?

My daughter’s first birthday is only two months away. Which means that it is time to start searching Pinterest for cakes to ruin for her and to look for party themes that I will never actually take the time to plan.

 I am thinking I might attempt this cake. For more on my cake making adventures, see my post called "Nailed It!" I can totally handle something this complex...

I think I should attempt this cake. Based on my son’s Mickey cake, I think I can handle this….

 I am thinking I might attempt this cake. For more on my cake making adventures, see my post called “Nailed It!” I can totally handle something this complex. During my search I got a little side tracked, which is shocking because Pinterest has never side tracked anyone. Ever. And I came across some quote about how if you love someone you can’t be mad at them for more than three days. If you are, you don’t really love them (I can’t find this quote again so there is a strong chance that I made it up in some sleep deprived stupor, but for the purpose of this blog, let’s say it’s real). Reading that got me thinking. I was irritated with my husband for the better part of the month of May. Now, before you start judging me, let me give you a bit of the back story. My husband is a creative type. He is constantly working on projects and building things. It makes him happy. However, it also leaves our counters looking like this:

Actually, this desk might have less shit on it than my counters did.

Actually, this desk might have less shit on it than my counters did.

This was a big project and had a deadline so my kitchen had junk everywhere for a month. So it was safe to say that I had been a little miffed at him for more than three days. But, what did this mean for my relationship? Did I love my husband? What an existential dilemma. I needed answers. And like everyone does when they have a crisis in life, I turned to the internet for answers.

Luckily my friends at had just what I needed. A quiz for people in my situation. An online quiz called “Are you like him or LOVE him (girls only).” Thank goodness it was for girls only. I wouldn’t want something that might think I’m a dude. And with these type of quizzes, it is important that they know your sex because they are extremely accurate and there is not much room for error. I mean, take this first question:

photo 2 (2)                This question is clearly meant for ladies only. None of those emojis look like gentlemen. The yellow smiley is clearly a girl. My favorite part about this question is that it doesn’t even relate to the quiz. I could choose any of those clearly female animations to describe almost any part of my day. At the time I was answering the question my baby was screaming and my two year old was whining because I wouldn’t give him chocolate for breakfast. I chose number 3.

As I progressed through the quiz, it became apparent that I should not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Although the first question may have been irrelevant, the rest were spot on and would clearly show the level of affection I felt for my husband. For example:photo 1 Well, anyone who knows me knows the story of how I relied that I like my husband. But there wasn’t an option for got a little drunk and told him “I like you and I don’t need anymore friends, so make a choice.” I guess it is kind of a combo of one, two, and three (the night is a little foggy, that’s why number three comes into play). Clearly this question is going to get to the heart of my feelings.

After reminiscing, I got to some more hard hitting questions. That is what you can count on all the tests for, questions that make you think, like this one:

photo 5  The all-knowing, grammatically meticulous quiz creator warned me that I must answer truthfully on this specific question (I lied on the rest) so I knew it was serious and would get to the crux of my marital state. Well, and the truth is, my husband I don’t have too much in common, but I do think we make a good couple. Oh no! A conundrum. I needed to answer truthfully but two answers were truthful. I thought back to my years as an educator and test prep training. Were there any choices I could eliminate? Well, I never use all caps so choice C could go. I was left with A and B. All my friends seems like quite the generalization and choices with all or never are rarely correct, so A it is. This test is proving to be more stressful than I first imagined.

So I kept going through the thought provoking questions until I got to this amazing one:

photo 4 Shy is not an adjective that anyone would use to describe my husband and I am not totally crazy pants, so options 2 and 3 are out. We do talk about a lot of stuff, but I can’t say I remember all of it. Luckily this question did not admonish me to reply truthfully so I picked option one.

After painstakingly going through each and every thought provoking and well written question, it was time for the best part. The results. My Pinterest created life dilemma would be solved. I would finally know for sure, do I love my husband?

photo 2 Wait, what? Do I love him? I don’t even understand this result. Maybe I wasn’t honest on question 4….

Letters To My Two Year Old: Dear E

My fourth guest author is Anne.  Anne a single mother to two year old E. Anne’s husband passed away when E was two months old. I met Anne through an online parenting group and I have been blown away by her grace, intelligence, dedication, and general bad assness (it’s a word, trust me). She is an avid runner and architect who can fix almost anything that breaks in her home, works multiple jobs, and still manages to find time to be a amazing parent. This letter expresses her love for her daughter and how E saved Anne during one of the hardest times of her life. I hope you enjoy its beauty as much as I do. You might need some Kleenex for this one.

2013-10-27 14.24.31

Dear E,

I can say, without any exaggeration, that you saved my life. There are things that happened that caused my legs to give out from underneath me because the weight of them was so debilitating. At that moment I knew I will never stand up again…and then you started crying because you were hungry. So I stood up and fed you. Just when I was about to collapse again I realized you needed to be changed and then fed again. After a day of feeding, napping, walking, talking, tummy time, and cuddles I realized that I never had time to fall back down. For a year that is what we did. You needed me and I was there. Our world was small and because of you I was able to keep my feet under me and put one foot in front of the other. We got through that first year and now through the second.

You have grown into such a intelligent and creative young girl who is finds everything interesting and entertaining. Your happiness and curiosity are immeasurable and your stubbornness is impressive. I have looked at everyday things through your eyes and found enjoyment in events and things that I would have never glanced at before.

There are things that I will never tell you and some stories that you do not need to hear. These are mine to carry as your parent. I will try to walk the fine line of what information you need to know to thrive and what I need to protect you from. I am sure that I will fall off this line many times but I will try my hardest to help you as you have helped me.

We are very lucky my smart and beautiful child. There are so many people who support us; neighbors, friends, family, and friends who have become like family. All of these people love you. I love you and your daddy loves you. He is not here anymore but he still loves you and watches over you every day. I will be there while you learn about the events and your mind is able to expand around the understanding of what happened. I will hold your hand as we walk down this road. I will carry whenever you ask.

You loving mother,


Letters To My Two Year Old: Dear Ady

I am so excited to introduce my first guest author, Nicole Deskins! I’ll let her tell you a little bit about herself and then you can read her beautiful letter to her daughter. Also, please note that all images used in this post belong to Nicole and cannot be used without her permission (except of course the awesome gif of Kristen Wig drinking).


A little bit about me. I’m a stay at home mom to three beautiful little girls. Caidence is six, Adyson is two and Kinzley is 6 months. They are all crazy. I’m currently attending school for Medical Billing and Coding with an emphasis in Medical Terminology. I’m hoping to be certified by December and then reenter the work force. Some days I’m more ready to go back to work than others. Staying at home with my girls has proven to have a lot more challenges than I anticipated. It has also been the most amazing part of my life so far.

I love reading, writing and photography; even though I don’t get to spend as much time as I’d like on the subjects. Well that’s all you’re going to get from me since at this very moment I have Kinzley squirming in my lap, Adyson yelling at me for juice and Caidence asking me all sorts of questions about this very project.

I hope you enjoy this series as much as I’ve enjoyed contributing to it. A  HUGE thank you to Becky for this wonderful opportunity.

-Nicole Deskins

My Ady Bug,

The day you were born was one of the greatest moments of my life. You were finally here after nearly two years of trying and 40 weeks and one day of pregnancy. Our family had finally seemed complete after your arrival. We were blissfully happy as a family of four.

Adyson Deskins-2

Fast-forward four weeks and I could paint you a totally different picture. Between your colic and acid reflux, I was one outfit change away from an emotional breakdown and one more inconsolable cry away from a bottle of vodka. Despite those rough six months, you have made it to the two year mark; one I wasn’t entirely sure we would reach with our sanity intact.

Kids can seriously drive you to drinking. Hold the glass please...

Kids can seriously drive you to drinking. Hold the glass please…

Now, you are the most “spirited” two year old I have ever met. You are smart and stubborn. Beautiful and wild. Mean and gentle. All of which, I’m sure, you will definitely work to your advantage. I swear you could be the next world leader or the next evil genius. I’m really hoping it’s the former.

Is this the face of an evil genius or world leader? What do you think?

Is this the face of an evil genius or world leader? What do you think?

Some days I’m ready to throw in the towel because you’re just too much to handle. Just as I’m ready to burst into tears because of all the temper tantrums, hitting and kicking, you find your way into my lap, give me a hug and a kiss and say, “I love you.” That’s it. That’s all it takes for all of my anger and frustration to vanish. It’s moments like those that I realize that no matter what you do or who you become, I will ALWAYS love you. With all of my heart and soul and without a shadow of a doubt.  Period. I Love You!

Love Forever and Always,


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