Abstract Kindergarten and first-grade children received two forms of instruction in phonemic awareness: (1) a “skill and drill” approach where the procedural knowledge of segmentation and blending of phonemes were taught versus (2) a “metalevel” approach that explicitly emphasized the application, value, and utility of phonemic awareness for the activity of reading in addition to teaching the procedural knowledge of segmentation and blending. Forty-two kindergarten and 42 first-grade children (14 children each in the experimental groups or control group) received training twice a week for 10 weeks. The results of this training study supported the growing evidence that phonemic awareness is causally related to reading achievement at the beginning stages of reading development. Furthermore, although a significant improvement in reading achievement was observed for both experimental groups in kindergarten and first-grade children, the degree of improvement in reading ability of the first-grade children depended strongly upon the type of instruction received. That is, the children who reflected upon and discussed the value, application, and utility of phonemic awareness for the activity of reading at an explicit level performed significantly better on a transfer measure of reading achievement than the skill and drill experimental group. The implications of a metalevel or metacognitive form of instruction are discussed.