Phonological awareness is a key aspect of literacy development. It involves a number of skills including the ability to divide words into their separate part such as syllables and individual sounds, or to manipulate words; to change a part and produce a new word (e.g. rhyme)
The Preschool and Primary Inventory of Phonological Awareness (PIPA) is the assessment tool we use to measure these skills. There are 5 subtests which provide us with an overall phonological awareness score. These are as follows:
Alliteration is the skill of understanding that different words begin with the same sound (e.g. cat, car), or that sounds might begin with a different sound, despite being written with the same letter (e.g. goat, giraffe). At a preschool level, we are asking children to identify 2 from 4 that begin with the same sound (e.g. cat, seat, table, car), to determine whether they can understand the concept of first sound and make that connection. This is a receptive activity – the child is not required to produce their own word that begins with the target sound.
Rhyme requires the skill of understanding that by changing just the first sound, you can produce another that sounds the same (e.g. cat, hat) and demonstrates the ability the manipulate words by changing one part. At this level we ask a child to identify 2 words that rhyme from a choice of 4. The child is not required to produce their own word that rhymes, it is a receptive activity at this skill level.
Syllable counting skills demonstrate the ability to break a word into its natural parts (i.e. as they sound). The word dog has one syllable, where as supermarket has four syllables (su-per-mar-ket). In this subtest children are required to listen to unfamiliar words to determine their skills in breaking up words.
Segmentation further explores skills at breaking down words into smaller parts Each syllable in a word has a number of sounds which can be individually identified by listening to the word (e.g. despite having 3 letters car has 2 sounds “c – ar”, and cake has 3 sounds “c….a….ke”)
First sound identification is the ability to separate the first sound from all others in the word, including a cluster. This subtest determines the ability to identify the flower begins with a ‘f’ sound, not a ‘fl’ sound, orange with and ‘o’ and boat with a ‘b’.