To understand a spoken language, a child must be able to hear and distinguish the sounds that make up the language. Virtually every child raised in a normal linguistic environment can distinguish between different speech sounds in his or her native language. Almost all native English speakers can therefore hear the difference between similar English words like grow and glow. Children who are not able to hear the difference between similar-sounding words like grow and glow will be confused when these words appear in context, and their comprehension skills will suffer dramatically.
Having fun with word sounds is a great way to play and learn at the same time. Figuring out words that rhyme, coming up with words that share a beginning sound, and saying silly words all help build a child’s phonological awareness; that is, the ability to notice, think about, and play with sounds in words. These skills will be used every time a young child reads.