I recently wanted to find out what the experts recommend in relation to when should my children learn to read and write, and what is the best process to teach this. It was surprisingly hard to find a reputable source for this information, but eventually I found the US Department of Education and their document Helping Your Child Become a Reader, and the OECD with their Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). The PISA data is based on the local native language for reading/writing, however the US Department of Education data is in English only, however the basic accomplishments should still provide a great guide to parents and teachers.
The first thing I wanted to look at was statistics, how does each ASEAN-Australian country compare to the global standards? The table below outline the results from PISA 2012 (higher number is better).Unfortunately a lot of ASEAN countries are not available, but for the ones that are available Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand have the most to improve to meet OECD average. But how can this be done? In the PISA 2012 report the following is identified:
- Too many students do not make the most of the learning opportunities available to them because they are not engaged with school and learning
- It is important to attract the most talented teachers into the most challenging classrooms.
- Fairness in resource allocation is not only important for equity in education, but it is also related to the performance of the school system as a whole.
- Large proportions of 15-year-olds lack basic problem-solving skills.
- Reinforcing positive attitudes towards learning, such as perseverance and openness to problem solving, may have a positive impact on ALL core skills.
Now at what age should your child learn to read and write? The following summary is from Helping Your Child Become a Reader, I have simplified it but otherwise kept the main points the same:
From birth to age 3, most babies and toddlers become able to:
- Make sounds that imitate the tones and rhythms that adults use when talking.
- Respond to gestures and facial expressions.
- Begin to associate words they hear frequently with what the words mean.
- Make cooing, babbling sounds in the crib, which gives way to enjoying rhyming and nonsense word games with a parent or caregiver.
- Play along in games such as “peek-a-boo” and “pat-a-cake.”
- Handle objects such as board books and alphabet blocks in their play.
- Recognize certain books by their covers.
- Pretend to read books.
- Understand how books should be handled.
- Share books with an adult as a routine part of life.
- Name some objects in a book.
- Talk about characters in books.
- Look at pictures in books and realize they are symbols of real things.
- Listen to stories.
- Ask or demand that adults read or write with them.
- Begin to pay attention to specific print such as the first letters of their names.
- Scribble with a purpose (trying to write or draw something).
- Produce some letter-like forms and scribbles that resemble, in some way, writing.
From ages 3-4, most preschoolers become able to:
- Enjoy listening to and talking about storybooks.
- Understand that print carries a message.
- Make attempts to read and write.
- Identify familiar signs and labels.
- Participate in rhyming games.
- Identify some letters and make some letter-sound matches.
- Use known letters (or their best attempt to write the letters) to represent written language especially for meaningful words like their names or phrases such as “I love you.”
At age 5, most kindergartners become able to:
- Sound as if they are reading when they pretend to read.
- Enjoy being read to.
- Retell simple stories.
- Use descriptive language to explain or to ask questions.
- Recognize letters and letter-sound matches.
- Show familiarity with rhyming and beginning sounds.
- Understand that print is read left-to-right and top-to-bottom.
- Begin to match spoken words with written ones.
- Begin to write letters of the alphabet and some words they use and hear often.
- Begin to write stories with some readable parts.
At age 6, most first-graders can:
- Read and retell familiar stories.
- Use a variety of ways to help with reading a story such as rereading, predicting what will happen, asking questions, or using visual cues or pictures.
- Decide on their own to use reading and writing for different purposes;
- Read some things aloud with ease.
- Identify new words by using letter-sound matches, parts of words and their understanding of the rest of a story or printed item.
- Identify an increasing number of words by sight.
- Sound out and represent major sounds in a word when trying to spell.
- Write about topics that mean a lot to them.
- Try to use some punctuation marks and capitalization.
If you are worried about your child’s progress, make a time with their teacher to discuss your concerns. Recommended methods to improve young children’s literacy skills include reading to your children, showing them how a book works, explaining words as you do day-to-day activities (shopping, playing, etc), keeping books around the house and playing games with words. For more information please see the document Helping Your Child Become a Reader.
Thanks to Flickr user Vassilis for the photo.
Sam has over a decade of experience in the design and operation of complex processing plants, he provides a strong technical background to the site in relation to safe equipment design and operation. Sam, a father of two children, has a B.Eng. (Chem) (Hons) and a Master of Business and Technology from Australia.