Can you match a spoken sound with the letter that represents it?
Bear Wear challenges you or your children to demonstrate knowledge of the alphabetic principle: the idea that printed letters represent speech sounds. In order to fully grasp the alphabetic principle, you must first begin to analyze the different parts of natural, rapid speech. When we speak or listen to someone, we don’t normally segment speech into separate words or sounds. Can – you – imagine – how – long – that – would – take – ? When we read or write, however, we must start to think about the separate words and sounds in our speech, so that we can represent them visually in print. This ability to think analytically about speech sounds is called phonological awareness.
“Adequate initial reading instruction requires that children understand the structure of spoken words,” states the National Research Council’s report, Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. Numerous studies have demonstrated strong relationships between the phonological awareness skills of young children and their subsequent reading achievement. For example, Robert Calfee, Patricia Lindamood, and Charles Lindamood conducted a study with 660 children in grades K through 12, and found multiple correlations between the children’s ability to conceptualize and manipulate speech sounds and their performance in reading and spelling. In a longitudinal study of children from grades K through 4, Richard Wagner, Joseph Torgesen, and their colleagues found that individual differences in phonological awareness were related to subsequent individual differences in the ability to read words.