Phonological awareness is the knowledge that words are made up of individual sounds. Phonological awareness is the precursor to phonics which is frequently the method used to teach children to read. If a child can not “sound out a word” or does not have good “word attack skills”, it is possible that he may not have the underlying phonological awareness skills necessary to understand and use phonics skills.
The development of phonological awareness begins during the preschool years. It is not unusual for a child of 4 years to be able to tell a syllable of a word when ask to “tell me a little bit of telephone.” Even though she does not know the word syllable, she will say “tel” or “a” or “phone” in response to this request. By 5 years it is not unusual for a child who has been exposed to rhyme to detect a rhyme, that is she will fill in the missing rhyming word in a familiar rhyme. Also by 5 years, most children have memorized poems or finger plays which is also a part of phonological awareness development.