Ask Reading Kingdom: At what age do most children learn to read?

At first glance, the answer to this question is simple and straightforward. Most children learn to read by about seven years. However, this milestone should not be viewed like milestones in early development which take place without teaching (e.g., skills such as crawling, walking and speaking).

Reading milestones fit a different category. For most children, reading occurs as a result of teaching and most countries initiate formal schooling (that is, the primary grades) around five to six years. So by seven years, the children are well into the reading process.

At the same time, it is important to note that a significant number of children learn to read well before this age. For example, there is a group known as early readers who seem to pick up reading without any instruction.  The process by which they do so is not well understood but the fact that they do learn at early ages (sometimes as young as two) suggests that effective reading can be acquired well before the usual time frame.

Does this mean that it is possible to teach many, if not most, children to read at ages well below six years?  In answering this question, it’s important to recognize the extent to which initial reading instruction relies on phonics. That instruction, in turn, requires that the children employ a range of sophisticated sound analysis skills (e.g., answering questions like “what is the first sound in the word dog?” “if we dropped the d sound in and, what word would you hear?” etc.)  Many young children encounter difficulty with this sort of analysis – so that they cannot easily deal with the instruction until they are about six or seven.  However, as Reading Kingdom illustrates, it is possible –indeed desirable—to teach reading effectively without imposing the complex constraints of most phonics instruction. When that is done, many young children learn to read and write effectively well before the usual time frame.

The question then arises: Is it desirable for children to learn to read at an early age? The answer to that question rests with some fundamental facts of educational achievement in our nation. Government figures consistently show that the majority of children encounter difficulty in learning to read.

Empathic teachers often tell both the children and their parents: “Don’t be concerned. All children are different and each learns at his or her pace.” But that is not how the children perceive the situation. They see many of their peers succeeding while they see themselves as failing. Failure in a peer setting can be devastating and it is responsible for significant numbers of children viewing reading as a skill they cannot master and as a sign that they are deficient.

If at all possible, this experience should be avoided. That is one of the goals of Reading Kingdom. Using user-friendly techniques that do not require the complex sound analysis and rules of traditional phonics, it enables young children—from about four years of age on– to master reading and writing. This, in turn, allows them to enter first grade and handle its demands with skill and success.

 Teach your child to read with Reading Kingdom.  Sign up today for a free 30 day trial.