Developing reading skills in children age seven to 11
By age seven
By the time they're seven, most children have made a good start with reading. By the end of Year 2, many children are reading books with about 32-48 pages. They're often beginning to read simple chapter books with black and white line drawings.
Many children of seven can:
- Use phonics to read unfamiliar words
- Begin to use expression when they are reading aloud
- Read silently for a short time
- Remember some key information
- Fill in the gaps in a story so that they can 'read between the lines'
- Talk about the beginning, middle and end of a story they have read
- Point out some good describing words
- Talk about what they liked and didn't like about the book
- Think a bit about when and where a story is set
It is easy to sit back at this point and say that your child has made a good start and can now read to themselves, so it's not necessary for your child to read aloud to you any more. But please don't.
Parents often stop reading aloud to their child, too. This is generally due to good reasons like an increased number of extra-curricular activities (after-school clubs and sport etc).
But many children who have made good progress with reading early on begin to slow down as they progress through school.
To help ensure that your child isn't one of them:
- Continue to read aloud to your child as often as possible.
- Read books that are longer or harder than books they would normally read for themselves. This way, you continue to develop that important bond you made around reading. Talk with your child about what's happening in a book and speculate together about what might happen next. Demonstrate how your voice speeds up and slows down as you read with expression and make the reading interesting.
- Continue to listen to your child read when you can. Some children become reluctant to read aloud as they get older, but it is important that you hear them read sometimes and talk regularly about what they have read. Some children become over-confident and don't realise what they're missing in a book. By talking to them, you can help to check that they are making meaning.
By age 11
Many children of 11 can:
- Pronounce correctly almost any word they encounter in their reading
- Read with fluency and expression, and at an appropriate pace
- Read silently and at speed, skimming and scanning, summarising and making meaning
- Talk about what they have read, finding words and phrases in the text to support their answers
- Use ideas from different places in the text to answer questions
- Talk about the 'craft of the author': why the author chose this particular word and whether another would have been as effective; why the author chose to present information in the order that they did; what the author wanted the reader to think and how the author achieved it
- Make interesting and thoughtful points when talking about what they thought of a book - and find examples in the book to back up their thoughts
The reading journey in juniors may be more subtle, but most children will need your help to bridge the Y2 and Y6 expectations.