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Reading: Age 6–7 (Year 2)

In Year 2, your child will be building up a range of reading skills. They should have strong phonics knowledge and growing comprehension skills, which will help them read more broadly, confidently, and fluently.

In May, your child will take their Key Stage 1 SATs. The tests include maths and English sections, as well as two reading papers. To find out about the SATs and how you can help your child prepare, visit our Key Stage 1 SATs page.

Read on to find out how your child will learn to read at school and how you can help at home.

What your child will learn

Find out how your child will be learning to read in Year 2 (age 6–7):

Use phonics to decode complex words

In Year 2, your child will still be learning to read increasingly complex words using phonics.

Phonics focuses on building words from sounds. A sound might be represented by a letter (such as ‘s’ or ‘m’) or a group of letters (like ‘ch’ or ‘igh’). Your child will learn the letters and the sounds they make, and how to put them together to read words.

Your child will continue developing their word-reading in Year 2 until they are fluent word readers. Once they have learned all the sound and letter combinations, they will be able to try to read any unfamiliar words.

Blend and recognise alternative sounds for graphemes

In Year 2, your child will continue to learn which sounds the different letters represent. They can then read the separate letters in a word and put them together to read the whole word. This is called blending. So, if your child knows ‘f’, ‘r’ ‘o’ and ‘g’, they can blend them together to read frog.

Your child will often come across words that have two possible ways of saying the word (for example, ‘lead’). This is because there are alternative sounds for the letters – the same letters can be pronounced in different ways. In this example, ‘ea’ could be pronounced /e/ or /ee/. This means that your child will have to think about the word in the sentence and make a choice: ‘the girl took the lead in the race’ or ‘the roof was covered in lead’.

Read words that use common suffixes

Suffixes are letters and groups of letters that appear at the end of words and change the meaning of the word, like -s, -ing, and -ed.

In Year 2, your child will be taught to read words that they can decode already, but have an ending added. For example, adding ‘-ness’ to ‘sad’ to make ‘sadness’. Other examples of words with suffixes that your child might learn to read include ‘enjoyment’, ‘plentiful’ and ‘happily’.

Read more common exception words (tricky words)

Some words are trickier to sound out than others. This is usually because the sounds and letters do not match with what has been taught so far, or they are not spelt in a way that can be figured out using phonics. In other words, they are not decodable. The National Curriculum calls these ‘common exception words’, but they are often called tricky words in schools.

Your child is likely to meet words like these (for example, ‘said’ and ‘the’) in the books they read. Children are often taught to recognise these words by sight. Some schools send home lists of tricky words so that children can learn them off by heart.

Read most words quickly and accurately

By Year 2, your child will have had lots of practice with reading. This will mean that most children will not need to sound out and blend the sounds in most words. Instead, they will read the word quickly because they have come across it many times.

Of course, there will still be unfamiliar words that still need to be decoded carefully. These include less-common words, names, and words that children are reading for the first time.

Read some books out loud

In Year 2, your child should have a good knowledge of how phonics works. Together with tricky words they can recognise on sight, this means that they will be able to read books at the right level independently, sounding out unfamiliar words with confidence.

Your child will also have the chance to listen to lots of other books that they can’t read on their own yet, building their understanding and enjoyment.

Re-read books to build up fluency and confidence

Re-reading books is one of the best ways for children to become fluent readers. The National Curriculum encourages children to re-read books, helping them to become more confident in their word reading every time they revisit a text.

Listen to and talk about a range of texts

Many children in Year 2 are well on the way to becoming fluent readers. They are often able to understand texts that are more complicated than those that they can read themselves.

For this reason, many of the books that teachers use for comprehension will be books that are read aloud to them. Reading for comprehension in Year 2 will involve plenty of chances for your child to:

  • discuss the sequence of events in books and how information is linked
  • learn about and retell a wider range of stories, fairy stories, and traditional tales
  • be introduced to non-fiction books that are structured in different ways
  • recognise the language used in stories and poetry
  • discuss the meaning of words.
  • learn some poems by heart and recite them with expression.

Understand the books they read and listen to

In Year 2, your child will develop their comprehension by:

  • drawing on what they already know or using information provided by their teacher
  • checking that the text makes sense to them as they read and correcting inaccurate reading
  • Talking about events in stories and why stories have the titles they do
  • Making connections based on what is said and done in a story
  • Predicting what might happen next in a story based on what has been read so far.

Talk about books and poems

Reading lessons in Year 2 give your child the chance to talk about the books that they read and that are read to them. In these discussions, children show their understanding and learn that different people have different opinions about the things that they read.

Your child might talk about books as part of a small group or with the whole class. As well as helping them understand their books better, these sessions also give them practice taking turns and listening to what other people think.

Year 2 reading test

In Year 2, your child’s reading will be assessed by a national assessment task (commonly called SATs), as well as by the teacher against a set of criteria from the National Curriculum.

Year 2 reading test

The reading test may include fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Children answer comprehension questions to show their understanding of the texts.

There will be a mixture of question types. In some, your child will need to choose an answer (selected responses). For others, they will need to write their own answer (short and extended responses).

Find out more about the Key Stage 1 SATs reading test >

Teacher assessment

Over the course of the year, teachers will use the reading that children do in school to inform their teacher assessment. Teachers will assess your child’s word reading and their comprehension.

Common reading issues

Lots of parents worry about their children’s reading. Fortunately, help is at hand!

Some children can read the words quite well – it’s just that they don’t want to. We call this group of children reluctant readersFor some other children, it is difficult to remember common words or the sounds of the letters from one day to the next. Reading is a slow and painful struggle, distressing for your child and for you. These children can be called struggling readers.

Read our expert advice on how to support your child with common reading issues:

If you are concerned about your child’s reading progress, then pop into school to talk to their teacher. Lots of people can help with reading issues, like teachers, librarians, and booksellers.

How to help at home

There are lots of ways you can help your child with reading in Year 2. Here are our top ideas.

1. Encourage your child to read with expression

At this age, it is likely that your child will bring home books to read aloud to you. Try to listen to them read every day.

As you listen to your child read, help them to decode any unfamiliar words if they get stuck and encourage them to keep going. The best advice is: be patient and be impressed!

Your child’s expression might sometimes sound stilted on the first read of a sentence or a page. This is because they are focusing on linking the letters to sound and then joining the sounds into words. To keep your child hooked into the story, read it again with expression – after lots of praise, of course!

2. Read to your child

Your child will learn a lot about how language works from speaking and listening. However, the type of language we use in writing is often different from that in speech. Reading regularly to your child, especially books that they cannot yet read on their own yet, is therefore a great way of improving their vocabulary and their understanding of language.

See our Vocabulary page for more ideas on boosting your child’s word choices.

3. Choose a wide range of books

Try to read your child a mix of fiction and non-fiction, real stories and magical stories, familiar characters and new experiences. Sometimes you might choose the book, sometimes they might choose the book and sometimes you might read both!

Browse our book recommendations to help you find the right book to share with your child. You could also take a look at our free eBook library for more ideas.

Our free eBook library has lots of books perfect for younger readers.

4. Talk about books, stories, words, and pictures

Talking about books is a really useful habit to get into. Talk about the characters and what happens in a story, or what specific bit of information was most useful, and ask your child for their opinions too. Let them tell you if (and why) they don’t like a book. Part of growing as a reader is learning that it’s okay not to like books sometimes!

Asking your child open questions can help them to think about what they’re reading. Try to ask questions that begin with ‘how’ and ‘why’. See if your child can go back to the text and pictures to tell you how they know the answer.

Talking about what is happening in a picture, what the characters might be thinking, or what might happen next all help to develop reading skills too.

5. Don’t be afraid to re-read

It’s tempting to think that your child should always be reading new books and changing their books as regularly as possible. While your child will benefit from reading widely, reading the same book more than once is important too.

As well as giving your child the opportunity to encounter the same words and phrases enough times to remember them, re-reading helps children to the think again about the ideas in the book. Maybe they will notice something they missed the first time? Having old favourites that you go back to again and again helps develop a love of reading.

6. Keep practising phonics

By now, your child will have had lots of practice with reading. This will mean that they will probably not need to sound out and blend the sounds in most words. However, there will still be some unfamiliar words that need to be decoded carefully. It’s still important for your child to try sounding out and blending a word if they get stuck.

Take a look at our phonics page to find out more.

Video support

How to pronounce pure sounds

Learn how to pronounce all 44 phonics sounds, or phonemes, used in the English language with these helpful examples from Suzy Ditchburn and her daughter.

What is comprehension?

Find out how children build their understanding of a text using a combination of background knowledge, vocabulary, language structures, and inference.