Here's How Language and Literacy Skills Develop in Kids Ages 6 to 7

Most children become confident readers and conversationalists during this time — here's how you can foster their growth.
By MICHELLE ANTHONY, PHD and Scholastic Parents Staff

Ages

6-7

Here's How Language and Literacy Skills Develop in Kids Ages 6 to 7

Although they’re no longer toddlers, 6- and 7-year-olds continue to grow rapidly in their language and reading skills. Their vocabulary is exploding as they learn five to 10 words every day (and sometimes it feels like they’re on a mission to say them all before bedtime!).

They continue to work on reading, sometimes surprising us when they name a restaurant from the car or read our phones over our shoulders. The days of spelling out "ice cream" to our spouses without our kids catching on might be behind us, but there are many fun and exciting new things in store for our little readers. 

Tune Up Pronunciation

By this age, most sound patterns are established, although your child may still struggle with “r’s” or may say words like ‘pisgetti’ instead of spaghetti. Some children will still say the /s/ sound like a /th/ at age 6, but by age 8, many children can say all speech sounds clearly.

“Every listener should be able to understand them from a speech articulation standpoint,” says Erin Vollmer, CCC-SLP, a speech pathologist and co-founder of TherapyWorks in Chicago. “We want to see kids communicate with one another, have simple conversations, and ask follow-up questions. Those are really important skills to have entering elementary school.” If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s speech, it’s important to see a speech language pathologist.

Help Your Child Sound Out Words

If your 6- or 7-year-old is struggling to sound out words, they may be having trouble breaking down words into phonetic pieces they can understand. “On the brain we literally have a map that is developed with each speech sound,” says Vollmer. “It’s like a topographical map, and we innately are able to distinguish the features of a sound.” By reading these ‘brain maps,’ scientists have been able to pinpoint what many struggling young readers have in common. Usually, kids who struggle with reading are the kids that having difficultly hearing the differences between sounds, adds Vollmer. 

To help your child, read books that highlight the slight differences in words. The rhyming text in books such as BOB Books Rhyming WordsYou Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Tall Tales to Read Together, and Billy Bloo Is Stuck In Goo is a great way to help your child practice hearing subtleties in language.  

Rhyming Books for Growing Readers

Sharpen Storytelling Skills

Children this age don’t just love to read stories — they enjoy telling them too! They might amaze you with their dinnertime tales, showing off their skills describing a character’s motive and explaining cause and effect. They’re also starting to understand the use of different tenses (past, present, and future). 

While your child’s spoken narratives will outpace written ones, the written word also becomes more sophisticated at this age. Children learn how to use writing conventions, such as capital letters and periods, and can recognize and spell many words. They also often spell things based on how they sound (like “tre” for tree). Help them showcase their budding writing skills with the Create Your Own 3 Bitty Books set, or enhance their skills with the Scholastic Success With Writing: Grade 1 and Scholastic Success with Writing: Grade 2 activity books.   

Help Your Child Become a Strong Writer

Keep Up with Story Time 

While it’s important to let kids this age get plenty of independent reading practice, they can still benefit from having a story read to them out loud. Not only does reading aloud to our kids continue to provide us with some great bonding time, but it also gives them important brain benefits they don’t get from reading on their own. 

“Being read to aloud gives kids practice with a really important skill called ‘movie in the mind’,” says Julianne Barto, a school librarian manager and literacy specialist at KIPP Whittier Middle School in Camden, New Jersey. Basically, because kids aren’t doing the hard work of deciphering words when they’re listening to a story, their minds are free to visualize what they’re hearing — an important part of reading comprehension. 

To get the most out of read-aloud time, dive into skill-boosting favorites like The Magic School Bus Rides Again: Satellite Space MissionEerie Elementary: The End of Orson Eerie?, or She-Ra: Island of Magical Creatures.  (Also, learn the best ways to adjust your bedtime reading routine for a new independent reader.)

Great Books to Read Out Loud

How to Choose the Right Books for Your Child

With so many books to choose from, it can be tough to know which ones offer enough of a reading challenge for your child, and which ones should wait until they’re a little older or further along in their reading skills. 

The simplest way way to determine if a book is a good fit for your 6- to 7-year-old is to look to the age of the main character. Books with protagonists who are around the same age as an elementary school reader are good picks in terms of reading level and maturity of content.

“If your student is in the 3rd grade and the main character of the book they are reading is in the 6th grade, chances are the content of that book will be not appropriate for your student,” says Barto. “Your child may be able to read each word within that book and understand the main events, but it is probably not the best book for them at this moment.”

Series like Junie B. Jones and the Magic Tree House feature chapter books perfect for eager young readers who are ready for a bit of a challenge. (Here are more age-appropriate books your advanced reader will love.) You can also browse popular books for kids ages 6 to 8 at The Scholastic Store Online.

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