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Watching a child read fluently is something exciting, not only for the parents but for teachers as well. Reading is one of the basic skills that all kids have to acquire. If you are teaching children in school, it is helpful to get an idea as to when children should learn how to read.

It is true that some kids are fast learners. They can easily understand how it is to read words loudly and correctly. Others may need more time and they continue to struggle for a few years. While some children learn later than their peers, there are signs of delay that may worry you. It is essential to know the right age to determine the proper action in case of a slow learning process. 

Reading Milestones

Kids would often learn at their own pace. There are different stages of learning how to read and all kids will spend varying lengths throughout each phase. However, many children can begin the process before they go to kindergarten.

With proper exposure to learning, it is possible that kids can start learning to read early. The journey toward success begins at a very young age – even before the child reaches the age of one. During infancy until their first birthday, babies begin to learn how the people around them communicate with gestures and sounds. They later figure out the meaning behind these actions.

Young kids at a few months of life can respond whenever someone speaks to them. They direct their attention to a certain object or person. A little later, they can understand at least 50 words. When parents read books to them, they can turn the pages and recognize the pictures.

As one to three years old, toddlers can now answer questions. Some kids can even name objects and pictures that they are familiar with. During this time, they may also start to pretend that they are reading books. Most of them are simply looking at the pictures or imitating adults as they scan the pages.

Kids around these ages can pick their favorite books and would ask to have them read often. Preschoolers will start to explore books on their own. If there are longer books that parents or adults read aloud to them, they will keep listening. Children can also retell a story and sing the alphabet, although they will need cues from others.

Some children can begin to recognize the letters in their name, especially the first letter. Around this time, it is also when they realize that drawing is not the same as writing. At the age of four, kids can recognize labels and signs, including logos of products that they usually see. 

This age is crucial because children show signs of learning to read. They can recognize certain rhyming words and name letters. Parents and teachers are recommended to track their progress. As much as possible, they should know at least 15 letters in uppercase. Other activities they can do may include:

• Writing their names
• Naming letters at the beginning of the word based on the sound
• Matching a few letters with their corresponding sounds
• Understanding that reading begins from left to right or top to bottom

At the age of five, kids can usually identify letters and short words. Some may even understand the definitions of certain words, including those that they can read on their own. Most teachers notice that many children can read familiar stories at the age of six or seven.

When Should You Teach Children to Read?

According to a number of professors, children should only begin formal learning, including reading, when they reach seven. They believe that teaching them how to read and write earlier than the specified age will only make the activities unappealing to them.

Many parents begin to teach their children how to write at the age of five. However, some experts agree that it is not the right time for the kids to understand both reading and writing. An Illinois University professor named Lilian Katz expressed that starting the two activities at five will put a dent on their interest in learning.

One reason why parents and teachers should not teach the kids early is that they may think of themselves as inept at reading and writing. Younger boys are more vulnerable to such a feeling according to Katz.

Meanwhile, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan said that the brain does not innately learn to read the same way it naturally discovers how to listen and speak. In North America, most parents believe that children should read around six or the first grade. However, the director of Reading and Language Center at the University of Alberta, Carol Leroy, said that there is no actual evidence to it.

Creative Ways to Convince Children to Keep Reading

Teaching kids how to read should be a fun experience for the teacher as well. When children know that the educator is enjoying, they will love the activity. When reading to a child, it helps to perform the following techniques:

Point or run your finger on the words as you pronounce them. This method will teach the kid what the words sound like.
If teaching younger children, it pays to make animal noises and funny sounds. It will help them get excited as you tell the story. They will pay more attention and let you finish reading the whole book.
Reading is not just about the words but the pictures, too. Stop and look at the images and show them to the children. Tell them about the things in the picture. For instance, if they are animals, be sure to name them all out. Talk about them a little bit, such as their sounds and other simple details.
Whenever there is a repeated word in the sentence, invite the children to join in. It will help them recognize the words easier as you continue with the reading activity.
It also helps to relate the events in the book to real life happenings. If the story is about a child riding a bicycle and the kid loves bikes, you can show the similarities to the character.

Whenever there is a question raised, teachers should always be ready to give an answer. When in the middle of reading, you should stop to explain. It also teaches the child to become a good listener while helping them express their thoughts.

Once the children can read some words, check their progress by letting them read a book out loud. The activity can boost their confidence as they enjoy their new skill. 

When to Worry

Some kids can read even without proper training. Others can take a different route. Even in second grade, some children are still struggling as they begin to learn how to read a simple book. It is normal for kids to guess even when they are already seven years old. They may even mix up some letters, especially Bs and Ds.

Attaining literacy takes time as it is a gradual process, which begins at infancy until the children can read independently. However, there is bound to be one kid (at least) that does not have reading skills and at least one who knows how to read without assistance.

If a certain child is a late reader and is not reading by the end of the third grade, a teacher has to be vigilant. However, panicking is not the solution. Parents need to talk to the teacher if they notice signs of late learning. This way, both parties can brainstorm strategies that will help the child get the support needed for reading.

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