When Should I Start Teaching My Child to Read and Write?

Medically Reviewed on 4/8/2022
When should I start teaching my child to read and write
While some children begin to read as early as three years old, most children begin to read by the age of seven.

Usually, children of different countries learn reading and writing at a different age. Some children begin reading and writing as early as when they are four years, and others do not start until they are seven years.

Although some children begin to read at the age of three years, it may take up to seven years for them to completely acquire comprehension skills.

  • Learning to read is a multistep process that requires various linguistic abilities. It takes time; therefore, it's difficult to pinpoint when children learn to read. However, most children read by the age of seven years.
  • Most kids can scribble by the time they are aged two years. They may learn to write the alphabet by four to five years and words by eight years.

Why is learning to read so important?

Reading is the initial stage in the process of self-learning for young children, and it offers them important benefits such as:

  • Developing communication capabilities
  • Teaching them how to express themselves verbally
  • Improving self-esteem
  • Providing a path for self-learning in the future

A child's early exposure to language is believed to be crucial to their eventual success. However, putting undue pressure on a child to meet your standards can cause anxiety in both you and your child and should be avoided.

According to experts, learning to read and write may take time, but speaking and listening are much easier. Even before you make your child read, you must talk and read to them. Introduce fun reading, and involve them in activities such as allowing them to pronounce the words correctly and letting them memorize the words.

It is believed that reading to an unborn child may affect their development. However, there is no scientific evidence to support the statement.

What are the reading milestones for children?

Skills of reading or performing any activity in a child develop with age. It is crucial to remember that development rates may vary among children and largely depend on the amount of time spent on developing a particular skill at each stage.

  • Up to age one year (infancy):
    • Learn gestures and noises
    • Express meaning 
    • Respond when spoken to 
    • Direct their attention to a person or item 
    • Grasp 50 words or more
    • Reach for books and flip the pages with the assistance 
    • Respond to tales and images by vocalizing and stroking the photographs
  • Age one to three years (toddlers):
    • Identify and answer questions regarding objects in books such as "Where's the cow?" or "What does the cow say?"
    • Use pointing to identify named items while naming familiar images
    • Pretend to read books
    • Finish phrases in novels they are familiar with
    • Doodle on paper, know the names of books and identify them by the cover picture, and turn pages of board books
    • Have a favorite book and ask for it to be read frequently
  • Age three years (early preschool):
    • Investigate books on their own or listen to lengthier volumes read aloud
    • Recount a well-known narrative and sing the alphabet song with prompting and signals
    • Make writing symbols recognize the initial letter in their name discover that writing is not the same as creating a picture to replicate the motion of reading a book aloud


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How to teach your child to read

Spending time with books provides opportunities for you and your youngster to bond and enjoy each other's company. On average, 10 to 15 minutes a day with a book will spark your child's curiosity.

  • Begin reading early in life:
    • Reading to your child can help them get off to a good start in life. Adults who repeat and read words to babies teach them language.
    • Talk about the characters and items in the book, as well as the noises the animals make, when reading to your child. Hearing your voice helps them make sense of the letters and images they are seeing.
    • Variate the pitch and tone of your voice as you read, and attempt different accents or voices for different characters. It keeps your child's attention and makes the narrative come alive on the page.
  • Show them what a good reader looks like:
    • Children must regard reading as a joyful and pleasurable activity rather than a challenging work.
    • It is more likely that your child will be encouraged to read if they witness you reading frequently. This will promote screen-free time.
  • Read in turns:
    • While allowing your child to read aloud, you may take turns to read sentences to them. This will eventually help improve their skills. If your child is beginning to read, this might be as simple as asking them to point out letters and words they recognize.
    • Reading together will increase confidence in your child, and allowing them to read aloud will make them memorize what they have learned.
  • Pay attention to what they are interested in reading:
    • Your child may develop an interest in a particular aspect. You must learn about their interests and allow them to read more about them.
    • If the child is interested in reading about any particular animal, provide them with books that contain pictures and new information about that animal.
    • This will make them more interested and eager in learning to read.
  • Make it a habit:
    • Making reading a fun part of your child's life begins with including books in your everyday routine. Make a habit of reading before bed or when using public transit.
    • Keep distractions such as smartphones and television to a minimum when you're together. Your time together should be focused solely on one other. This will help develop a strong bond between you and your child.

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Medically Reviewed on 4/8/2022
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Typical Language Accomplishments for Children, Birth to Age 6 -- Helping Your Child Become a Reader: https://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/reader/part9.html

When do kids learn to read? https://www.understood.org/articles/en/when-do-kids-learn-to-read

Reading Milestones: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/milestones.html