SFI Health
How to support 3-5-year-old's reading skills

How to support 3-5-year-old's reading skills

The years between 3 and 5 are critical in reading growth.

Lifestyle insight

The years between 3 and 5 are critical in reading growth

Reading skills develop in kids at different stages during their growth. For example:

The majority of pre-schoolers can name their favourite book; hold a book, turn the pages, pretend/attempt to read; see the difference between random lines and letter/numbers

Some may even recognise and even write some letters or numbers; name some letters; make up rhymes and silly phrases

Small minority may be able to predict the endings of stories; read and write their own name; retell stories they’ve been told

If your child isn’t reading and writing their own name before starting school, it’s completely normal. However, there are ways that you can get involved to help raise an eager reader. For starters, make books a part of the household. Whether it’s your kids seeing you reading them, or letting your kids have a collection of books they can draw from, have reading a focus in the household.


Some fun activities you can do together 

  •  Choose reading material together. There’s no such thing as bad reading, so whether it’s a comic book, magazine, book, or song book it’s good. 

“Ben actually loves our trips to the bookstore. He takes me by the hand and drags me over to the kid’s section as he selects books and comic for his collection. He’s so proud of his curated collection that when visitors come to our home, he always shows it off.”
~Parent of Ben, 4 

  •  Encourage any kind of writing. If the occasional letter is backward or they hold the crayon in a strange way, it’s all good. At this age it’s all considered learning!
  •  Play word (and phonic) games to explore their creativity. Start by having them name the letter their favourite word starts with and as they advance start asking them to name words starting with the same letter. For example, ask questions like, ‘what letter does p-p-puppy start with? And then progress to ‘can you name other words that start with P’?
  •  Try active reading. Instead of just reading together start having discussions about the material. Ask them about what they think may happen next in the story.
  •  Make reading a bedtime ritual. This time will be quality time for both you and your child. Have this time for both of you to cosy in and read together.
  •  Create an inventory of fun facts. Use non-fiction books to learn fun facts on topics they love—from cats to dinosaurs, develop an artillery of fun fact materials you can come up with together that they can show off to friends and family.
  •  Re-read the favourites over, over and over again. Repetition is great at this age and it will certainly bring confidence. 

“Tim’s favourite book is hands down “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein. The best part about this book is that it’s filled with silly illustrations and short poems that we can read and giggle at together. He picks a new favourite poem each week, and we read them to death. But, by the end of the week he’s reciting a couple of his favourite lines to anyone who will listen.”
~Parent of Tim, 5


1. Healthfully. How to teach a 4-year-old to read. Available at:

2. Pearson. Top 10 tips to help children enjoy reading. Available at:

3. Scholastic. Raise a reader: a parent guide to reading for ages 3-5. Available at: https://www.scholastic.com/parents/books-and-reading/books-and-reading-guides/raise-reader-parent-guide-to-reading-ages-3-5.html

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