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 Words, You 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.