This article examines recent research and developments relating to the role of phonemic awareness and phonics in early literacy education and the relevance of these findings for school counsellors and teachers. It defines and reviews the role of phonemic awareness and phonics in theoretical models of reading processes, including whole-language, code-based and balanced literacy programs, to determine the varying degrees of significance attributed to these components in early reading instruction. It critically reviews recent national and international government research, reports and recommendations to examine how phonemic awareness and phonics are conceptualised and translated into educational policy. In doing so, the article highlights the need for establishing a comprehensive and explicit theoretical and practical framework for the teaching of phonemic awareness and phonics, and a thorough analysis of the range of traditional and contemporary methods of teaching phonemic awareness and phonics in the classroom. The importance of school counsellors having a greater understanding of research about contemporary best practices in literacy education, and a key role, in partnership with teachers, in ensuring such knowledge is put into practice, is emphasised.
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