The development of phonological awareness: a prerequisite for learning to read and write.

Before being able to read and write, the child needs to know all the sounds corresponding to the written signs that are letters.  This learning naturally involves memorization, but not only, and this memorization proves difficult for the child if phonological awareness is not acquired. Because it is an awareness: the child becomes able to hear isolated sounds in words and to distinguish them from each other. He then becomes aware that he pronounces sounds, which we symbolize by written signs which combined them will transcribe the words that we pronounce. He then becomes ready to enter the learning of combinatorial reading and parallel writing.

Learning phonology :

Phonological awareness is acquired through auditory stimulation through nursery rhymes, oral games and sorting or association games using images representing words the child knows.

This phonological learning is done gradually starting with easy distinctions: sounds at the beginning of words starting with vowels, easier to distinguish than consonants (bee, pineapple, artichoke...) and rhymes at the end of words (cupboard, drawer, mirror...). Then the child will become able to hear the sounds inside the words ("I hear A in CAMPAIGN, CHAMEAU...") and even to count the number of times he he hears the sounds in the word : "I hear two A's in CANARD" without seeing the word written beforehand of course. At the same time, the child will become able to count the syllables of a word and then know in which syllable(s) he hears the sound. 

And the child will be able to start writing down the sounds he hears to write words: this is the beginning of writing.

After this fundamental learning of listening to sounds and matching with letters, the child will learn to read by combining sounds with each other to decipher the syllables that will constitute words: this is the syllabic method.  

When difficulties arise:

It often happens that this learning takes longer for some children. Often it is enough to consider his month of birth to understand that he may be younger than his classmates and a few more months will be enough for him to develop this awareness of sounds. When this is not the case, it is important to know that not all children learn at the same age, as with walking. And a few months later the child will have developed a maturity of perception... it often happens that a child who was not ready in Grande Section becomes ready in CP and that he makes all these acquisitions at the same time as learning to read. 

But a hearing check should not be neglected because a child with hearing difficulties will have difficulty hearing sounds and learning to read can be complicated. Similarly, if the child does not pronounce the words correctly, it will be difficult for him to hear the sounds requested because he does not pronounce them in the same way. Hence the importance of considering a speech and language assessment in the event of language impairment in order to set up a follow-up before learning to read.