Developing reading skills in children age five to seven


Mother and child readingThe most important thing you can do is to continue to read to your child. Try reading books that are slightly too difficult for your child to read independently.

As well as increasing motivation and interest in reading, this helps them to develop confidence because they're hearing the kinds of language structures they will need to be able to read.

Key concepts

The key concepts your child will encounter as they develop their reading in infants are:


Throughout infants, your child will be having regular phonics sessions in school. Work with the school to follow their advice in reading with phonics.

Tricky words

As your child becomes a better reader, they will find more and more words that they can't read using phonics alone.

Help your child to develop additional strategies to solve tricky words:

  • Can you sound out enough of it to make a guess at the word?
  • Do you know any other words that look a bit the same? Can that help you to work out the word?
  • Can you use meaning or picture clues to work it out?
  • Try missing it out and reading to the end of the sentence. Now can you work out the word?
  • Ask for help. Don't let one tricky word stop the flow of the reading session.

Longer sentences

As reading books get harder, the sentences get longer. Listen to your child reading these longer sentences. If it doesn't sound quite right, read the sentence aloud yourself to show how it should sound and talk about what it means.

Making meaning

As books get longer, pictures get rarer - and they don't give as many clues - so it becomes harder work for your child to figure out the meaning. 

As your child's reading develops, keep talking to them about what they're reading. Do they know what's going on? Are they able to make links with other things that have happened? Can they predict what might be going to happen next?

Becoming a reader

Above all, as children become readers, they develop the understanding that print carries meaning. Reading is more than a decoding activity: it's about communication. The writer has written something for the reader to read and understand.

This flowchart shows some of the stages children may go through as they learn to read. Every child is different and some children follow these stages in a different order.

Flow diagram


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Last updated: 2 months ago