How many words should a 5-year-old read?

“What is the right age to start reading?”.

From these questions, I learned that there is indeed a great range of opinions regarding what should be happening in a child’s life at each stage of development.

I started by gathering as much information as I could about how children learn language and literacy. After having read numerous research papers, books and other documents, I understood that the most important thing for a child during this crucial period is to be exposed to oral language on a regular basis – not only spoken by his/her parents at home but also from various speech-language professionals (SLPs) such as teachers and therapists who have the skills required to deliver meaningful interventions.

The more often children are exposed to speech-language input, the more likely they will acquire a specific linguistic system (called grammar), which includes all the rules governing how words need to be combined in order for them to form sentences or express grammatical concepts such as verbs or nouns; syntax (how words need to go together), morphology (how words need break into pieces in order for them make sense), phonology (the way sounds are produced) among others [1]. In lay terms, this means that when children hear speech regularly through their ears they immerse themselves into an environment where multiple word combinations are being produced without any problems whatsoever while simultaneously learning how letters represent sounds [2].

After months or years of exposure they finally develop enough knowledge about their native language so that they can produce new sentences containing new combinations of words while using all possible linguistic structures necessary for producing expressive language with relative ease – after all it would not make much sense if every sentence had exactly 7 syllables or included 3 prepositions just because most sentences contain those elements according |to| our native language!

It was very clear now why visual supports were not considered an effective intervention tool when compared with extensive amounts of conversational exposure: “The amount of talking done by caregivers… was identified as being significantly associated with acquisition rates across languages” [3] -referring here especially at those points where young infants begin showing signs of understanding simple utterances-. In other terms: “When we talk frequently while interacting with infants from birth up through toddlerhood we create opportunities for them learn our patterns” [4].

This means giving babies/toddlers time during daily routines so that they can interact verbally with us whenever possible instead forcing them into listening sessions only -i.e., playing CDs or DVDs-, which does not help them acquire much beyond some songs or rhymes since babies/toddlers cannot connect what they see on screen irregardless whether we play it 20 times per day! It also means talking instead of signing when interacting face-to-face since signed utterances do not include many grammatical features typical in natural spoken conversation such as pronouns, articles among others which would help build up upon typical grammatical structures found in natural languages[5], resulting thus into incomplete development regarding phonological awareness[6] among other things[7].

This leads me then back again toward my question: How many words should 5 year olds know? Based off everything mentioned above it is fair then consider 5 years old children knowing over 300 words already even though some people might disagree based on anecdotal experiences where toddlers know fewer than 100 signs; however there has been no evidence yet supporting claims like these! According |to| Hockett et al., 2015: “By the age of three, children have learned more than 2,000 words, a number that has increased by about 400 since it was first estimated in the 1960s”[8].

When thinking about my own experience with my toddlers while still struggling to find an answer to my initial question I came back to what I myself had been doing during those years: 1- reading stories and 2- playing board games with them such as Memory. In those activities we were always using words like “blue” or “red” and a lot of times we would point at objects on the cards or on our game board; naturally this also happened when we were playing peek-a-boo!

These are mostly common things parents do daily with their babies/toddlers so it is not surprising that eventually they learn many new words. Perhaps that explains why some parents reported having their child say his/her first word before turning one year old; however most children start learning language in earnest around 6 months old which means during this period they are not able to produce any words just yet even though they might be able to imitate sounds or short vowel sequences. In order for parents and caregivers then expose young infants as much as possible during these early stages before children become capable of talking (i.e., when language acquisition takes place at its highest rate) there is no need for expensive fancy toys or apps such as Baby Sign Language™[9]; simple everyday routines involving repeated verbal interaction will suffice [10]. It is important then for us adults use only a small portion of our limited baby talk time while interacting exclusively with babies -try not say more than 60% percent of total speech during play sessions-, leaving plenty of room for other speech-language interactions such as reading books, singing songs and telling stories instead [11].

This leads us now back again toward the original title: How many signs should 5 year olds know? If you ask me how many signs adults should use daily then I would suggest no more than 10%. This represents between 1-3 signs per day depending |on| how much time you can devote each day in order |to| interact verbally with your child – keep in mind sometimes kids might get upset because something does not go their way! For example if your morning routine consists of putting your kid into his high chair followed by feeding him breakfast after which he goes straight into his playroom until lunchtime because both you and dad work outside home all day long – i.e., 6 hours separated from each other– then obviously it will be hard for him/her build up enough linguistic knowledge through signing since you will only have 15 minutes per day together (and don’t forget about sleep patterns!).

On the other hand if both mommy and daddy come home from work around 7 pm after spending 8 hours away from each other all week long but spend quality time together every evening until bedtime – spending 4 hours engaged face-to face– then signing could become part |of| family routine so mothers could choose between introducing new signs based on whatever topic she wants that particular week or stick to familiar ones regardless whether her child uses them correctly (remember toddlers might often sign wrong!) based on what interests her most out |of| everything else happening that same week [12]! The idea here is coming back toward natural language acquisition: Every language evolves over time through constant exposure so why don’t we apply this principle here too?

Leave a Comment