In English language we hear the sounds of the letters in the words. Eg. We don’t say the letters G-o-d, but we say the sounds of the letters in the word ‘God’ as ‘Guh’ ‘o’ ‘duh’.
Each letter or a group of letters have their own sounds. These sounds of letters in the spoken language is called as the phoneme. We use the combination of the sounds to say a word. This is called blending of sounds.
The toddlers may find it difficult to grasp and pronounce the words properly. To make them aware about it we can help them to use phonemes to pronounce the words correctly.
This can be done by teaching them how the sounds are used to frame the whole word even before they are introduced to reading. If phonemic awareness is not introduced, it becomes easy for the children to learn reading.
To understand the sounds in the words, first they have to learn to listen. Listening is not just hearing. It involves hearing, understanding, analysing what is heard and react or respond to it. Listening is the most important skill that has to be developed in children.
If listening skills are not developed, they will not be able to understand whatever is being taught to them and this may lead to big failure as effective listening skill is the one that nurtures or supports the human behaviour.
The following tips can be followed in order to improve their listening skills:
1. Grab the focus of the children:
Children will be in their own world of imagination. So in order to make them listen to what we are telling, we must first grab their attention by saying things which will interest them. They can be anything from silly things to doing actions or using modulated voice or displaying any picture, etc. Then we have to tell or pass on the information in a very interesting way. Also we must remember that their attention span will be very less.
2. Plan well and involve children in listening games:
The best way to improve their listening skills is “Freeze while dancing”. The songs like “If you’re a kid”, “Hokey pokey”, etc are excellent to make them listen and act according to it. They develop the skill while they have a lot of fun.
3. Let’s listen to the sounds game:
Create a silent environment. Instruct your child that there’s going to be silent time and to listen to all the sounds that they hear during this time. Also mention that ears are the sense organ used to hear the sounds.
We have to see to it that they listen to the sounds around them. Like a vehicle moving or a crow cawing or a dog barking or any other sound around them and after the silent time is over, have a discussion about the sounds that they heard.
4. Rhyme and story time:
Listening to stories and rhymes is a superb activity for children to develop listening skills as they are fun for them.
Explain the meaning of the rhymes and stories by making silly actions.
5. Teach rhyming words to children whenever possible.
Eg. While giving bath, use words like water – hotter, order, quarter/shorter
Mug – rug, bug, dug, hug
Plate – slate, gate, rate, hate
Rice – mice, lice, slice, ice.
Using rhyming words will definitely help children to listen carefully while gaining good vocabulary. Once they develop listening skills, the next step to make them aware of phonemes is to split the words in a fun way.
While conversing, stress on a few words by splitting the sounds Eg. In the word “Play” – split the sounds, say “we hear 2 sounds in the word play – “pl” pause and say “ay”; In the word “sleep”, we can hear 4 sounds – ‘s-l’, ‘ee’, ‘p’. etc.
This will allow the children to listen and understand that the words have different sounds which will help them to develop the phonemic awareness.
We at VSPS kindle our young ones to develop listening skills through various activities. We also focus on developing their phonemic awareness as well as guide and help parents too to enrich their knowledge about the same.
Mrs. Uma Pratap
Group Academic Advisor, Preparatory