Literacy Milestones To Mark: Birth To Primary School Age

Children do not come into the world understanding language. It is a skill that has to be developed over time. Every parent wants to make sure that their child is developing healthily. While it’s normal for different children to develop at slightly different rates, there are some milestones to look out for to ensure they are on the right track. When it comes to language and literacy, what are some milestones to keep your eyes peeled for? 

  • 0-12 months

During this time, babies will begin to respond to the human voice. When you speak to them, you will notice that they wait for a pause in your voice before responding with a sound. Even at that age, they know how to practise turn-taking in a conversation! Babies will start babbling and imitating some sounds at this age. They may also show interest in books by staring at pictures and flipping through them. This is also when they begin to grab onto objects.

  • 1-2 years

At this age, children begin to speak and can form short 2 to 3 word phrases. They most likely have a vocabulary of about 150 to 300 words by the age of 2. Reading to your children would encourage them to have more interest in books and talking about the pictures in the books may urge the children to interact with them. Children at this age will gain the ability to hold a pen or pencil and begin to scribble. 

  • 3-4 years

Children at this age will learn to form simple to complex sentences. They begin to ask questions and the famous “why?” will start popping up when you say something. By the time they turn 3, a child will have a vocabulary of 900 to 1000 words on average. They also become more attuned to grammar and learn to correct themselves. Their reading skills also improve as they are able to associate text with sounds and recognise some words in print. While they develop the ability to differentiate drawing from words, they begin to write simple words and maybe even their own name!

  • 5-6 years

At this age, children generally develop 90% of grammar acquisition in speech. They can form complex sentences and use all parts of speech fluently using more expressive vocabulary. While they are able to read on their own, the curious minds of children will ask questions about new words they have yet to discover. Their writing improves too as they can spell simple 3 to 5 letter words or use phonetic spelling for words they can’t spell correctly. This is also the time they start being aware of writing conventions and punctuations. 

While children are natural learners, the home environment and language input they are surrounded with also plays a huge role in their language development. Parents can promote language development by speaking often to their child, reading to them, and getting them comfortable with scribbling, writing, and drawing early.

Toddlers or primary school children can also get more exposure through language learning in school. Look out for international schools with robust language programmes for young children to develop literacy, confidence, and creativity through fun and enriching activities.