What is the normal age for reading to begin?
Just as in other areas of development, this isn’t a “One Size Fits All” attribute. In some areas of Europe, schools don’t begin to teach reading until age 8, but U.S. schools usually expect reading to start in kindergarten, and certainly by first grade. A few precocious readers learn the alphabet before age 2. At STRIDES, we have also taught intelligent late bloomers who weren’t ready until age 10.
Will it hurt a child to learn early, even at age three?
Starting early is fine, as long as the child is interested. If a preschooler suddenly loses interest, it’s best to stop for several months, or even years. Forced reading at an early age may build resistance to reading or academics in general.
What resources should I use for my early learner?
I recommend mini-lessons (10-12 minutes) for the curious and insistent preschooler. A good set of books is the “Bob Books,” with short words and repeating sentences. The classic Dick and Jane readers (now reprinted) are also excellent resources, and they have charming pictures and stories that children still love today.