Literacy: At What Age Should a Child Learn to Read?

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Two kids on right age to learn how to read

Literacy is a milestone in children’s development. Is your little one already at the right age to start learning how to read?

Some children begin to decipher the first words when they reach the 5 year mark. However, others may still be learning the alphabet and will only start reading later on, at around 7 years old. During this period, it is common for fathers and mothers to be concerned with the development of their children. Comparisons often take place with classmates at school, or even between siblings. It’s common for parents to worry about whether their child is behind or that it is way too early to encourage them to become literate.

In this article, we share what experts say is the right age to learn to read and write.

First school years and literacy

It is necessary to understand that the beginning of school life is not necessarily linked to the child’s literacy. Children can start attending school well before they need to learn to read or write.

In the early years of childhood education, students’ development takes place through various stimuli: the child explores the world through touch, shapes, colors, music, and also begins their socialization with classmates and teachers.

All these pedagogical stimuli are important so that, when the time comes to start literacy, learning happens more naturally and without major difficulties.


In its definition, literacy is teaching how to read, to decode letters and numbers in order to decipher the alphabet code to read words, phrases, and also write them. Since the 1980s, when illiteracy was a global problem, many studies have discussed what it means to know how to read, and thus the idea of ​​“literacy” emerged.

This happened because it is common for people to know how to  read and write, yet not know how to make effective and contextualized use of written language. They have difficulties in understanding and also expressing themselves in writing. It is necessary to know how to use writing in everyday life, apply it in society, and buildand express meanings.

Therefore, children of 5 or 6 years old may already be literate, but the literacy process continues in the following years so that they have  complete language development.

So, is there a right age to learn to read?

When it comes to child development, it is always important to emphasize the fact that the maturity of each child varies and is influenced by many factors including social relationships, culture, and other external stimuli. For example, some babies start walking at 9 or 10 months, while many only after 13 or 14 months. This does not mean that there is any development problem. What matters is that the child is always stimulated naturally.

In the literacy phase, some schools begin to introduce the alphabet to children at around 4 or 5 years old. In this case, children who are already attending school can start gradually learning to be effectively literate around the age of 6 to 7 years old.

Depending on the school’s curriculum, however, this process may start later, and only be completed in the 3rd year of elementary school.

Regardless, learning to read sooner or later does not indicate that the child is more or less intelligent. Each child has their moment and pace of development. Both schools and families can work together to ensure that this is respected at the same time and that the child is encouraged to learn.

Stimulate without pressure  

If we analyze it well, the process of literacy begins long before we realize it. Since birth, the child has the curiosity and the will to learn. This can be stimulated in different ways throughout childhood, with games being one of the most popular methods.

Playing is how children learn about the world around them and naturally build their knowledge. Therefore, encouraging contact with the world of reading in the form of games, music, and, of course, books, is important for the child to be able to learn to read and write more naturally and without difficulties.

Lastly, the fact that the child shows interest and taste for reading sooner or later does not mean that he has greater or lesser intellectual capacity. For this reason, families do not need to entertain expectations, much less put pressure on their children during this phase. Spend time each day to enjoy moments of reading and playing together with your child. This will make the learning process more pleasurable for children in the long run.

Read also: 10 Fun Ways on How to Get Kids to Read

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