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Developmental Norms for Reading & Writing

Where should your child be at age 3? 4? 5? Below you'll find a quick guide on developmental norms for these ages and helpful information.

Age 3

At 3 children should start working with and recognizing upper case letters, starting with their own names. At 3, they should be able to write and recognize their own name. To reinforce this, put their name on their drawings, starting form the upper left hand corner, so their eye starts to go from left to right. If your child is in pre-school they will likely be working on spelling out the letters of their name when asked. Put your child’s name on their drinking cup, on their door and any art work. As the year progresses, they will be able to recognize family member’s names and friends names. Make cards with names on them and work on this at home. If holding a crayon or fat pencil is difficult, buy pencil grips, they really help.

Age 4
At 4 a child should recognize all upper case letters. (A, B, C, D…) and be able to write them, you may have to dot them and they can trace them, as they start learning this skill. Next they need to sound out letters and think of words that start with that letter. This is how they learn phonemic skills and see that letters make sounds. Rhyming books are particularly good for the pre-reader, Dr. Seuss is always a favorite. Research shows that rhyming is an excellent pre-requisite for reading. Being able to anticipate the rhyming word helps children be predictive when they read.

Age 5
At age 5, children should know upper and lower case (s,t,u,r,v…) letters. They should also understand the sounds that consonants make (BBB for “B”, MMM for Mom). Learning the vowels come after that. Children who are able to blend simple consonant-vowel-consonant words ( C-A-T, D-O-G, B-A-L-L, M-O-M, D-A-D, L-O-V-E, S-T-O-P, R-A-T) will be beginning  emergent readers. Word families are next and are what are used in early reader books like the Bob Books (“cat”, “sat”, “hat”, “mat” or “ball”, “fall”, “hall”, “tall”)

Some children develop these skills earlier OR later than others, but these are some guidelines to think about.

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