What are typical reading expectations?

As any complex skill, the ability to read builds on throughout the years. Typical reading skills include:

Age range


By age 3

Recite alphabet

By age 3-4

Recognizing letters

By age 4-5

Matching letters and sounds

By age 5

Recognizing familiar words

By age 6-7

Reading familiar stories

By age 7-8

Independently reading longer books

By age 8

Reading for meaning

When should I be concerned with reading difficulties?

There are some signs that important reading difficulties may be present. These signs may be different according to the child’s developmental stage.

Signs in early childhood (children up to 6 years of age) include:

  • Talking later than other children.
  • Trouble learning nursery rhymes or playing rhyming games.
  • Trouble recognizing letters in his/her own name.
  • Difficulty learning the alphabet.
  • Trouble following directions.
  • Mispronouncing familiar words.


In school, children with reading difficulties may:

  • Have significant difficulty learning how to read, including trouble sounding out new words and counting the number of syllables in words.
  • Struggle with taking notes and copying down words from the board.
  • Struggle to finish tests on time.
  • Have difficulty rhyming, associating sounds with letters, and sequencing and ordering sounds.
  • Lack fluency in reading and continuing to read slowly when other children are speeding ahead.
  • Avoid reading out loud in class.
  • Feeling tired from reading with great effort.


Outside of school, children with reading difficulties may:

  • Have trouble understanding logos and signs.
  • Have difficulty learning the rules to games.
  • Struggle to remember multi-step directions.
  • Have trouble reading clocks or telling time.
  • Have extreme difficulty learning a foreign language.
  • Have emotional outbursts when incapable of reading something.


What can I do to help a child with reading difficulties?

Caregivers know their children best. If you are a caregiver, patience is key to help your child with reading difficulties. Also, there are a few things you may attempt:

  • Talk to your child's teacher. If you notice your child is having some difficulties, reach out to their teacher. They can be a valuable source of information on how well your child is progressing in reading—teachers are familiar with benchmarks and expectations for each age group and may have test results that highlight problems.
  • Encourage activities that your child likes and feels good at. Reading difficulties can progressively undermine a child’s sense of competence. So, engaging your child in activities, whether it is music, joining a sports team, or anything they feel good about, helps to build and strengthen confidence that can be harmed by the reading difficulties.
  • Read age- and reading-level-appropriate materials with the child each day. Spending time reading with your child every day can be very encouraging and increase the chances of your child practicing reading in a safe environment. So, prioritize reading with your child everyday, treating this moment as a fun bonding experience through nice stories, fun activities, rewards, or positive encouragement.

If you have already tried some or most of these suggestions and the problems your child is facing persist, it may be the moment to seek out professional support.

Reading skills that don't evolve the way they should despite efforts, and difficulties that are too discrepant from those faced by children the same age may indicate the presence of a disorder named Dyslexia.


What kind of professional support can I seek out for help?

It is not unusual that some caregivers feel embarrassed, inadequate, or guilty if their child experiences difficulties reading. Others think that the problem is not a great deal or that their child may grow out of it. Some teachers may choose to wait to see if there is improvement in the next term. But, if you are concerned about your child's reading difficulties, support and guidance are available now.

If your child's reading difficulties persist beyond a few weeks, seek an evaluation from a professional or a supportive reading intervention at your child's school. The public system provides services through the Centers of Multidisciplinary Assessment, Counseling, and Support (KEDASY). The earlier that support is provided, even short-term support, the better the outcomes for reading difficulties are. It will not only help your child's academic progress but also their sense of self-esteem.

Educational specialists, tutors, and speech-language therapists, especially those with experience working with students who learn differently, can help children approach reading difficulties in different and more effective ways.


Where to find more information

Specific, detailed, and clinical information on Dyslexia can be found at [clinical short guide at the program website].

If you want to know more about the closest available services for educational and public health systems for children and adolescent assistance across the country, go to our Services Mapping webpage here.

You can also find more information by pointing your phone camera at the QR code below or by clicking here.



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