Childcare Advice & Guides

When Should Children Start Learning to Read?

As parents, we often want our children to develop as quickly as possible.

Watching them grow, learn new things, and become more independent is incredibly rewarding.

A key skill for all people – learning to read – may take a little longer to master than others.

Most children start reading on their own at around the age of six. But they’ll go through a lot of development before they get to that point.

You can do a lot as a parent from the ages of 1-5 to help them get started.

This blog is designed to walk you through their journey to becoming a reader.

Before they can learn to read, there are a few other steps they need to go through first. We break them down below.

First They Must Learn to Talk

It pretty much goes without saying, but if a child can’t yet talk, they can’t yet read.

They should begin to show signs of talking between the ages of six and eighteen months – it’s different for every child.

Don’t get worried if it hasn’t happened after a year – it’s not unusual. They’ll only grasp a handful of words in this timeframe anyway.

Once they’re around two years of age, they’ll have a better handle of things. And could known as many as 100 words.

This will only increase over the next few years. By five, they could know as many as 5,000 words!

They Also Need to Learn the Alphabet

As they’re learning to talk, you can also begin to teach them the alphabet. Letters make words, after all.

In all likelihood, this won’t start happening until they’re around 2-4 years-old.

Children can’t really recognise the complex shapes of letters until this age. Sure, they can spot ‘o’, but the likes of ‘k’ and ‘y’ are a little more complicated.

You can help your child here by practicing letters with them at home. They’ll also do this at nursery, but it doesn’t hurt to give them a little extra support.

Once they’ve got letters memorised, which might take a year or two, they can start putting them together.

Teaching Children to Read

If they’ve got letters down – you can begin teaching them how to read.

As mentioned, most children start reading from the age of six. Although again, this does vary from child to child.

But you should really be reading to them – and not just picture books – from about three or four.

Let them see the words as you’re reading out loud. Follow the words with your finger, and see if you can get them to repeat certain words.

They’ll begin to associate what your saying with the combination of letters they’re seeing.

If it’s taking a little longer than you thought, speak to their nursery practitioner. It probably isn’t a big deal, but talking to a professional can put your mind at ease.

Don’t put too much pressure on your child to learn how to read – everyone moves at their own speed.

Eventually they’ll get to reading on their own. Again, it might take a couple of years, but before you know it you’ll have a child who can read independently.

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