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The Developmental Stages of Learning to Read

The process of learning how to read can vary from child to child. Although there are certain reading milestones most children hit at similar points, each child will learn at his or her own pace, in his or her own way. Here, the educators at Lexplore provide an overview of the developmental stages of learning to read as well as some valuable resources that are widely regarded by educators and literacy experts.

Children Learn Oral Vocabulary Before They Learn to Read

Before children learn how to understand and interpret words on a page, they have already developed an individual level of understanding of spoken words and oral vocabulary. They may understand thousands of spoken words, as well as a knowledge of alphabetic rules and order, but may not yet have the ability to read words on paper. While all children learn to read in their own way, there are distinct stages of reading development that most children follow. Most children also exhibit similar behaviors, instincts and patterns while traversing the developmental stages of learning to read.

While many child development and literacy researchers have formulated interpretations of child reading development, the most popular and reliable sources often include five distinct stages. Perhaps one of the most popular guidelines for child reading development is Chall’s Stages of Reading Development, published in 1983 and still widely regarded today.

Chall’s Stages of Reading Development is a Detailed and Reliable Resource

Chall’s Stages of Reading Development, first published in 1983, outlines the typical child’s reading development process, covering stages 0-5:

Stage 0: Pre-Reading

Stage 0, otherwise known as pre-reading or “pseudo-reading,” includes children ages 6 months to 6 years. In this stage, children often “pretend” to read, meaning they can recognize signs and stories previously read to them on a page and can therefore point them out and exhibit an understanding of the content. Children master this stage by being read to by a parent, guardian, teacher or other adult and through interactive, dialogic reading.

Stage 1: Initial Reading and Decoding

Stage 1 typically includes children ages six and seven, or children in 1st grade and the beginning of 2nd grade. In this stage, children develop the skills necessary to interpret the relationships between written words and spoken words. Children in this stage begin to learn letter-sound relationships (phonics), and to read simple text containing phonetically regular words. Generally this happens through direct instruction. At the end of this stage, children can usually read up to 600 different words.

Stage 2: Confirmation and Fluency

Children in Stage 2 are generally 7-8 years old and can read easy, familiar texts by using basic decoding, sight vocabulary and context clues. Children can develop and acquire new reading skills through advanced reading instruction and by listening to others read at higher levels.

Stage 3: Reading for Learning the New

Stage 3, which is made up of Phase A and Phase B, describe children ages 9-13. Phase A includes intermediate children in grades 4-6 and Phase B includes middle school/high school children in grades 7-9. In this stage, children read in order to gain ideas and knowledge, and to experience new feelings and attitudes as a result of what they read. Children in Phase A are typically still more efficient at learning through listening comprehension over reading comprehension, but by Phase B are equally proficient in both.

Stage 4: Multiple Viewpoints

Stage 4 includes individuals ages 15-17 who demonstrate reading skills in a broad range of subjects with a variety of different viewpoints.

Stage 5: Construction and Reconstruction

Stage 5, includes adults, age 18 and up, who read for their own purpose, gain knowledge and integrate new knowledge with prior experiences. They can read quickly and efficiently.

More information on the characteristics of each stage of Chall’s Stages of Reading Development can be found here.

Additional Researchers Have Developed 5-Stage Reading Processes

While Chall’s Stages of Reading Development is one of the most highly regarded and cited reading development resources, there are many other guidelines that detail the stages of learning to read for children. For example, the Developmental Stages of Learning to Read, outlines 5 distinct stages: Awareness and Exploration of Reading Stage (pre-K), Emergent Reading Stage (pre-K to early Kindergarten), Early Reading Stage (Kindergarten to Grade 1), Transitional Reading Stage (Grade 1 to Grade 2) and Fluent Reading Stage (Grade 3 and above). You can read more about the Developmental Stages of Learning to Read here.

Contact the Passionate Educators at Lexplore for More Information

Even though there is an abundance of child reading development resources out there, remember that each child experiences reading in a unique way.

Lexplore’s state-of-the-art, eye-tracking technology and AI can help you identify when a student may be falling behind in reading development, and recommend interventions. For more information contact the educators at Lexplore today.