Books offer a gateway to countless possibilities. When a child learns to read, it opens up a new world of wonders for them. Children learn this essential skill at an early age. However, teaching a child to read is not easy and requires time and patience. A child needs to develop a few other skills and have a good retentive memory to read even simple text.
You probably are eager to let your child start reading and want to know when children learn to read. In this post, we tell you the age by which a child starts to read, how to help a child start reading, and the benefits that reading offers to a child.
At What Age Do Children Learn To Read?
Every child develops reading skills at their own pace. As per the model established by education theorist Jeanne Chall, most children go through the following stages of reading development (1)
Stage 0 – Pre-reading: From six months to six years of age, children are mostly involved in “pseudo-reading,” meaning they only pretend to read by holding a book in their hands. They usually imitate their parents or teachers who have previously read to them from a book. By age six, they generally understand thousands of words they hear but can only read a few of them.
Stage 1 – Initial reading and decoding: When the child is between six and seven years of age, they can recognize the relationship between written and spoken words and between letters and sounds. They start to recognize simple words and are capable of sounding out one-syllable words. They especially develop this skill when guided directly by an adult. Regular practice helps them understand over 4,000 words they hear and read up to 600 different words.
Stage 2 – Confirmation and fluency: Between seven and eight years of age, children learn to read simple stories that they have heard before. They do this by implementing decoding skills, sight vocabulary, and context clues. From this point, children can further develop their reading skills by listening to others read and reading more themselves. At the end of this stage, they understand about 9,000 words they have heard and learn to read about 3,000 words.
Stage 3 – Reading for learning the new: Between nine and 13 years, children learn to read complex text to gain new knowledge, new ideas, and new experiences. At the start of this stage, children tend to learn more through listening comprehension, and by the end of this stage, they are able to learn through both listening and reading.
Although most children might follow the pattern mentioned above while learning to read, research shows that reading to children regualrly by the age of four to five years has a positive impact on their reading and cognitive skills later in life (2).