Elementary Reading Skills and Concepts: What Your Child Should Know

Parents sometimes worry about how to help their kids with reading. Read on to find out what elementary children are learning in school and how you can assist your child at home.

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Overview of Reading in Elementary School

Children focus on learning to read in kindergarten through 2nd grade. After that, they read to learn, which means they read to extract information from texts. One of the main goals in 3rd-5th grade is for children to become enthusiastic, independent readers who can use their skills to learn new material in all subjects. The following are key skills that kids need to become strong, independent readers who enjoy reading.


Fluent readers recognize words automatically so they can focus their attention on making connections among the ideas and their background knowledge. Reading milestones include instant recognition of words, reading out loud with expression and reading quickly and accurately.


To get the most out of reading, your child needs to practice active reading. Just reading words on a page isn't enough. Whether reading directions to a game, reading a textbook or just for fun, children need to read with a purpose. Reading milestones for comprehension include putting events in sequence and stating the main idea of a passage. Another milestone is the ability to summarize a story orally and in writing.

Spelling and Writing

The focus in the upper elementary grades is learning to spell correctly and writing more sophisticated compositions. Writing organized paragraphs with correct punctuation will also be emphasized.

Your child will be expected to use a dictionary to look up unfamiliar words and use fundamental editing skills to revise compositions to make them more clear and understandable. Another goal in this category will be to write a simple research paper using a variety of sources.


Your child needs to be aware of similar sounding words like 'gold' and 'cold' as well as prefixes, suffixes and root words. Learning goals for this area will be using clues in the text to figure out word meanings and using synonyms and antonyms. An emphasis will also be placed on using different parts of speech correctly, including nouns, verbs, and adjectives.

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