The Efficacy of Rhyme Instruction in Early Childhood Special Education

Lisa A. Pufpaff, Ph.D.

Ball State University


Rhyme awareness is a typical component of preschool curricula, yet research evidence does not support a direct link between rhyming ability in typically developing preschoolers and later literacy acquisition. Since the evidence base on literacy development among typically developing children is often used to guide intervention among children with disabilities, it is critical that teachers of early childhood special education be aware of the misconceptions regarding the importance of rhyme awareness. The ability to blend and segment phonemes has consistently demonstrated a causal relationship to literacy acquisition, yet is not consistently addressed at the preschool level. This paper summarizes the evidence regarding the link between rhyme awareness and literacy achievement for children with disabilities. The evidence suggests a general trend toward deficits in rhyme awareness among individuals with disabilities yet no direct link to later literacy acquisition. Therefore, the implications suggest caution in teaching rhyme awareness to the exclusion of other early literacy skills that have a proven direct, causal link to literacy achievement.

Keywords: literacy, early intervention, evidence, best practice, disabilities, rhyming, preschool

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