Preschool Teachers’ Understanding of Phonological Awareness

Research has documented that there is an inconsistency in terms of education requirements for preschool teachers across the nation. This inconsistency brings various levels of knowledge to the classroom, which has a direct impact on students’ learning. Early literacy exposure is fundamental in the preschool years to prepare students with the necessary literacy skills to enter kindergarten and begin learning how to read. One significant early literacy skill that begins to develop between four and five years of age is phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is the understanding of sound sequences in language. This research explored preschool teachers’ understanding of the meaning of phonological awareness and the activities implemented in the classroom to promote development of phonological awareness. An online, open-ended survey was used to gather data from preschool teachers. The data reported that the majority of the participants in the study implemented rhyme, syllable, and phoneme activities to promote development of phonological awareness. There were minimal activities reported focusing on the large unit of language, such as in phrases. The majority of the participants in this study defined phonological awareness as the sound structure of language, with phonemic awareness at the forefront. Phonemic awareness is an advanced concept of phonological awareness that tends to develop toward the end of the preschool years or in the beginning of the kindergarten years. Preschool teachers must be aware of the varying components of phonological awareness ranging from phrases to phonemes, while also consistently assessing their students to ensure that they are developmentally ready to begin learning about language at the phoneme level.