Fortunately, many schools are now emphasizing phonemic awareness in their reading instruction, particularly for young children. Yet parents should still be highly alert for signs that their children are struggling. As noted in Why Kids Can't Read: Challenging the Status Quo in Education, by Phyllis Blaunstein and Reid Lyon, here are some signs that a child may be in trouble:
Great difficulty in understanding that words are made up of individual sounds that can be pulled apart and combined to make words: for example, that batboy can be pulled apart into bat and boy and that the word bat can be broken down still further and sounded out as: b aaaa t;
Struggling to read and sound-out common, one-syllable words, such as dog, cat, hop, nap.
Frequently mispronouncing complicated words, leaving out parts of words or confusing the order of the parts of words, saying amulium instead of aluminum, for example;
Stumbling when reading multi-syllable words, without coming close when trying to sound out the full word;
Omitting parts of words when reading, so that it sounds as if there's a hole in the word, reading convertible as conible, for example;
Poor performance on multiple choice tests, and an inability to finish tests on time;
Disastrous spelling skills.
If your child is experiencing these problems, it's important to look closely at the reading instruction he or she is receiving. Here are the qualities of sound, proven instruction for phonemic awareness: