We have defined phonics as the sound system of language, or the association of sound and letter. Therefore, phonological awareness can be defined as the demonstration of an understanding of the association between sound and letter. In an article by Cadieux and Boudreault, a technique is suggested for parents to help their children to improve their phonological awareness, which in the long run increases communication.
The article discusses a parent-child paired reading program. In the first phase of the program, the simultaneous reading phase, the parent reads along with the child out loud at the pace that the child sets. The second phase is the independent reading phase, in which the child gives the parent a signal that he or she is ready to continue on his or her own. In this phase, praise is the key; the parent praises the child and then allows him or her to continue on his or her own until the child says that assistance is needed.
There are specifics that must be followed by both parent and child if this program is going to work. For instance, each paired reading session should be at least 5 minutes, but no more than 15 minutes unless the child expresses a wish to go longer. If the child shows any signs of becoming either tired or bored, reading should stop immediately because the point is to have fun reading, not to dislike it. In addition, sessions should take place about five days a week in order to set a schedule and make it a daily task. It is also important that the child pick his or her own book. When or if the child begins to struggle with words, the parent should wait 4 seconds, allowing the child to try to correct him or herself first; after 4 seconds; the parent may give the child the answer. When the child is reading well, on the other hand, praise and reinforcement is essential.
How does parent-child paired reading help? The article says that it takes an integral part in improving children's academic abilities, reading abilities, and especially phonological awareness (all of which aids in communication). It also allows parents and children to spend quality time together. When children improve their academic and reading abilities, they perform better in school. Lastly, it allows parents to see first-hand their children's progress in reading and communication. Taking 5-15 minutes out of one's busy to simply read aloud or along with one's child is an easy way to ensure that the child is bettering his or her phonological development and communication skills. It is also a fun way to spend time together!
Cadieux, A., and Boudreault, P. (2005). The effects of a parent-child paired reading program on reading abilities, phonological awareness and self-concept of at-risk pupils. Reading Improvement, 42 (2), 1-14. ProQuest Education Journals.