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Phonological Awareness is the knowledge of sounds (i.e. the sounds that letters make) and how they go together to make words.

Note: Each stage of development assumes that the preceding stages have been successfully achieved.

How to use this chart: Review the skills demonstrated by the child up to their current age. If you notice skills that have not been met below their current age contact Kid Sense Child Development on 1800 KIDSENSE (1800 543 736).


 Age  Developmental milestones Possible implications if milestones not achieved
 0-2 years
  • No specific milestones
  • None
2-3 years
  • Rhyme awareness emerges at 24–30 months
  • None
3-4 years
  • Ability to produce rhyme emerges at 30-36 months
  • The child may struggle with recognising similarities in letter patterns in words (e.g. cat, hat, mat, bat)
4-5 years
  • Clapping/counting syllables in words (e.g. computer- com-pu-ter). [Note: 50% of children achieve this by age 4]
  • Recognises/produces words with the same beginning sound (e.g. catcup)
  • Segments/blends words by onset/rime (e.g. s+un= sun) OR given sounds, can blend them into a word
  • Counts sounds in words (e.g. dog- d-o-g = 3 sounds). [Note: 50% of children achieve this by age 5]
  • The child may struggle with spelling longer words accurately as they will be unable to chunk them into smaller more manageable parts
  • The child may have difficulty articulating longer words and recognising similar word patterns
  • The child may have difficulty with spelling words accurately
5-6 years
  • Able to recognise words that rhyme and determine the odd word out (e.g. cat – hat – big)
  • Identifies first sound in a word (e.g. What’s the sound at the start of ‘dog’? d)
  • Identifies last sound in a word (e.g. What’s the sound at the end of ‘dog’? g)
  • Lists words that start with the same sound (e.g. pet, pin)
  • Tells which of three words is different (e.g. sit, sit, sat)
  • Blends 3 – 4 sounds to make a word (e.g. h – a – n – d = hand)
  • Segments sounds in words that have 3 – 4 sounds (e.g. hand= h – a – n – d:4 sounds)
  • The child may have trouble spelling words correctly if they are unable to hear the individual sounds in different positions within words
  • The child may struggle with recognising that joining sounds together creates whole words and with reading words smoothly
6-7 years
  • Delete syllables from words (e.g. Say ‘cupcake’. Take away ‘cup’ and what is left? cake)
  • Substitute syllables in words
  • Delete sounds from words (e.g. Say feet. Take away the ‘f’ sound from ‘feet’? eat)
  • Substitute sounds in words (e.g. Say hat. Change the ‘h’ to a ‘c’ – cat)


  • If a child struggles with manipulating sounds in words, they may not be able to recognise similar letter/sound patterns within words
  • The child may struggle with creating a visual representation of a word and to hold onto that image in their mind as they manipulate (change) sounds to create new words
7-8 years
  • Uses phonological awareness skills when spelling
  • The child may have difficulty with spelling words correctly
  • The child may struggle with reading words accurately and fluently

This chart was designed to serve as a functional screening of developmental skills per age group.  It does not constitute an assessment nor reflect strictly standardised research.

The information in this chart was compiled over many years from a variety of sources. This information was then further shaped by years of clinical practice as well as therapeutic consultation with child care, pre-school and school teachers in South Australia about the developmental skills necessary for children to meet the demands of these educational environments. In more recent years, it has been further modified by the need for children and their teachers to meet the functional Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) requirements that are not always congruent with standardised research.

Speak with an experienced practitioner to learn what’s best for your child

Contact us today to make an initial enquiry or book an assessment for your child on 1800 KID SENSE (1800 543 736)

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