When Do Kids Learn to Read?

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Becoming a parent is a unique experience and is certainly something to be thankful for. It is a fact that not all people that want to become parents can and that is why having a child is a blessing in its own way.

A child is living symbol of the emotional relationship and love between you and your partner. How cool is it that another human being carries the genes of you and your partner?

Responsible parenting has become a big debate point in the past few decades and now there are hundreds of theories on how to communicate and cooperate with your children during their first 18 years. During childhood, your child will go through a lot of different periods including toddler, preschooler, and puberty, and every period will have to be specifically approached.

For most parents, coping with toddlers might be the most challenging out of all. Toddlers are children between the age of 12 and 36 months, and we can define them as curious yet emotional human beings. While being a toddler is pretty fun, being a parent of one can be pretty stressful. The reason? Toddlers want to experience the world around them with all five senses. Although this has its benefits and you shouldn’t forbid a toddler to act like one, their brain is driven only by an emotional response, with no rational or analytical thinking whatsoever.

The Reading Milestones of an Average Child

This results in tantrums, crying, as well as contrary behavior. Everything about it is normal, and the only way you can successfully cooperate with a toddler is to try to understand them while teaching them what is right and wrong in the present situation.

On the other hand, the toddler period is a stage that marks the start of emotional and cognitive development, and it can highly influence the further development of your child. While you shouldn’t expect your toddler to be able to fully read and master verbal colloquialisms, you can still do your best to attract them and interest them in the process of reading and learning.

Reading is an important skill without which we would be severely handicapped. There is one common question relating reading – at what age do kids learn to read and is there such a thing as too early or too late? Let’s take a look at what the milestones by age are in the reading process, as well as how can you contribute to your child’s reading skill.

The Reading Milestones of an Average Child

A general rule of thumb is that kids begin to read anywhere from the age of 2 to 5, but in most cases, they are fully ready to read once they are in the first grade of primary school. Still, you shouldn’t take this for granted – if your child shows an interest in reading earlier, you should absolutely support them and do everything in your power to make the learning process ease.

A great program that you should take a look at is Children Learning Reading – it is a great source of information and strategies on how to help your child with the learning reading process, and what the milestones by age are.

While there is no such thing as too early, you still shouldn’t force your child into reading before the age of 3 or 4, and you should let them develop the interest on their own. In the end, most kids have the same reading skills once they are in the first grade, which is a result of balanced cognitive development.

Before moving on to how you can help your child develop better reading skills, we want to suggest the reading milestones you should look out for and how you should approach these at each stage.

First, at the infancy period, which includes the first 12 months of your child’s life, you can expect your child to develop a primary interest in understanding words and objects. What does this mean? Your child will try to respond by vocalizing and gesturing. During this period they start to understand that sounds and physical gestures carry a certain meaning and that they can respond through these. While your child is far from obtaining verbal and reading skills, the first 12 months are pretty important when it comes to further development, as throughout this period, your child will learn and try to pronounce their first set of words.

Next comes the toddler period. As we have mentioned above, toddlers are children between the age of 1 and 3 years old (12 and 36 months). Although toddlers are emotionally driven and in most cases they only care about the present moment without thinking about the possible consequence, they still develop a number of interests and enjoy exploring the world around them. They will be able to name objects and use the pointing gesture to identify the relevant object. Along with that, toddlers can understand and answer questions such as “what does the dog say.” At this stage, they will start to develop an interest in story reading and request you to read them their favorite story in the evenings. This is the first sign of interest in reading and learning, and you should absolutely support it with enthusiasm and encouragement. Make an effort to help them explore the book and let them pretend they are reading it.

After the toddler stage comes the early preschool period which is set between the age of 3 and 4. An early preschooler can be even more curious than a toddler, but doesn’t react only with an emotional response. Early preschoolers enjoy listening to longer stories, identifying their favorite book, as well as retelling something they have heard from another person. Along with that, they start to understand that writing is different from drawing and start practicing with symbols that are similar to letters. This is the perfect time for your child to learn to sing the famous alphabet song using physical gestures and familiar cues.

Common Reading Issues That Kids Encounter

During the late preschool period, which is set between the age between 4 and 5, your child will try to write and read using familiar letters that they have seen and heard in their favorite stories. During this period they start to understand the difference between syllables and recognize different sounds and words. A great way to practice their reading and writing skills is by using rhyming words. A late preschooler will know that a book is read from left to right, and will be able to retell a whole story that has been read to them a few times before.

The kindergarten period includes a lot of matching, rhyming, and beginner writing. By the age of 5, you should expect that your child is able to write certain symbols, letters of their name, as well as read familiar words. They also develop an understanding of definitions and are able to predict the possible outcome of a read story. The cognitive development of a child is at its peak during the kindergarten period. If you are not sure how to support the reading interest of your child, we recommend that you take a look at the Child Learning Reading program.

A kid that is in the first grade of primary school (age 6-7) is likely to read stories out loud, and correct reading mistakes on their own. Along with that they will know to identify unfamiliar words using familiar objects. Kids start to understand capitalization and punctuation rules and develop an interest in forming logical sentences.

As we have mentioned above, most kids have the same reading and writing skills by the age of 7 and 8. During this period they will enjoy reading longer stories, focusing on the correct expressions, as well as understand the importance of paragraphs and begin to use these in their own writing. Kids in the second and third grade will know to recognize the humor in stories they read and develop an interest in writing their own using more complex words and drawings.

From the age of 9 to the age of 14, kids start to understand the difference between different texts such as fiction and biographies, and they know how to identify a narrative writing style in a group of expository texts. Along with that, they enjoy extracting information from texts and use this in their stories. You can expect that your child will be able to understand and identify the plot, time, place, and the problem of the story, as well as develop their own moral and meaning.

Common Reading Issues That Kids Encounter

While it is absolutely normal for an adult to be able to efficiently read and write thousands of words in different styles, the learning reading process is not something that happens overnight. In fact, your children will go through various stages before they can understand, identify, and correctly read different texts. Bearing this in mind, the learning reading process is not always as smooth as you may hope and there are a few common issues that accompany it.

It is not uncommon that a kid in the kindergarten period can have trouble understanding or identifying different letters and sounds. While this may represent an issue, it is nothing that you can’t fix by reading together with your child and explaining to them the basics of letters and sounds.

As we mentioned above, a kid at the first grade age should be able to effectively retell heard stories. Still, this is not always the case, and some have a problem with remembering or recalling stories as well as given instructions.

It is normal that a first grader knows to recognize at least 100 sight words. If that is not the case, your child might have a reading problem. Don’t put give up just yet, though,  as there are numerous strategies to cope with this.

Last but not least, if your child is anywhere between the age of 10 to 14 and still has trouble reading, it is smart to take them to a pediatrician and go from there. While it is still not too late to correct this issue, there might be a medical condition that is blocking your child’s learning ability and it is something that should be addressed as soon as possible.

Children Learning Reading

Be a Part of the Reading Learning Process

While kids will develop the interest to read and write on their own, your role as a parent is critical. You should be there to support their interest and help them develop an understanding of letters, sounds, sight words, as well as the difference between various writing styles. The Children Learning Reading program can give you a great insight into how to approach the process through effective strategies such as rhyming, playing with books, etc.

First, you should start reading stories to your child from infancy. This way you will develop a great bond with them, and ignite their initial interest in listening, reading, and understanding. Apart from that, you should start asking them questions about what they heard in the story as soon as they turn 12 months. A toddler should be able to answer simple questions and even retell parts of the story. Let them play, explore the book, and even pretend that they are reading or writing the book. Toddlers enjoy experiencing the world with their five senses and it is something that you should support.

Along with that, you should test their reading skills by asking them to tell you the what is written on the cereal box, or recognize the names of certain brands and stores (if you go grocery shopping). Rhyming is one of the most effective methods for learning reading and recognizing different letters and sounds.

Finally, we recommend that you invest in learning flashcards and educate your child on a new letter (through a picture) each day. Give them daily flashcard tests, rotating the letters from time to time.

Final Thoughts

While learning to read is not something that will happen overnight, it is absolutely normal that your child starts developing an initial interest during the toddler period. Your responsibility as a parent is to support their curiosity and help them in the process through various methods such as story reading, flashcard tests, and rhyming. Make reading fun and enjoyable, and watch your child grow up to be an educated and productive individual that loves reading.

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Stephenie Gehling - July 15, 2020

This article is great! If it helps, you can teach your child to read, this video
reveals how any child aged 2-9 can quickly learn to read at


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