Reading: Age 7–8 (Year 3)
In Year 3, your child will hopefully be on the way to becoming a confident, independent reader. Many children who have got to grips with phonics and word-reading will shift their focus onto comprehension.
There are a variety of simple things you can do at home to support your child’s developing reading skills. 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 3 (age 7–8):
Understand root words, prefixes, and suffixes
A root word is a word that can stand on its own without prefixes or suffixes.
A prefix is a group of letters that is added to the beginning of a word. This makes a new word. For example, the prefix un- changes words so they mean the opposite. For example, ‘happy’ becomes ‘unhappy’. In this example, ‘happy’ is the ‘root word’.
A suffix is a group of letters that is added to the end of a word. For example, the suffix –ness turns a word into a noun. For example, ‘happy’ becomes ‘happiness’.
Your child will use their knowledge of root words, prefixes, and suffixes to work out the meaning of words. They will understand how prefixes and suffixes can change meaning.
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 a wide range of books and retell stories orally
In Year 3, your child will read and listen to many different books including fairy tales, myths, and legends. Retelling these stories helps your child to learn story language and to practise speaking to an audience.
You can find lots of books to read aloud with your child on our free eBook library.
Perform poems and play scripts
Your child will study poems or play scripts in Year 3, and will have the chance to perform them to an audience. This helps them learn to read aloud with expression and shows the teacher that they understand the text.
Your child will also be expected to read aloud from their reading books.
Talk about interesting words and phrases
Your child will talk about the language used in the different books they read. They will explore why the author has chosen certain words and to think about why particular words and phrases work well. This is useful for building their understanding of the texts they read. It is also useful when they come to write themselves.
Check that the text makes sense to them
In Year 3, your child will be encouraged to become an independent reader, checking whether what they are reading makes sense to them. If it doesn’t make sense, it’s important they don’t just read on to try and finish the book.
They will be taught to re-read and to think about or look up the meaning of a word. Your child will also be encouraged to use the other words and phrases to work out the meaning. They will be able to talk to you about their understanding of what they are reading.
Read between the lines and justify thinking with evidence from the text
Sometimes the information in a text is very clear (for example, ‘It was raining’) and easy to understood. However, texts are often a bit more complicated and may require inference to properly understand.
Inference is where some information is left for the reader to read between the lines. They need to make sense of details that are not stated clearly. For example:
Instead of ‘It was raining’, the text might say, ‘Ally shook the water from her umbrella and carefully balanced her soaking coat on the radiator’.
Being able to make inferences is a key skill for comprehension so this is a focus for reading in Year 3.
Predict what might happen next
In Year 3, your child will be taught to make predictions about the texts they read. This could mean predicting what will happen next in the story or what a character might say or do. These predictions are a good way to check understanding.
Talk about books and poems
Reading lessons in Year 3 give your child a 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 developing their comprehension skills, these lessons are useful practise for taking turns and listening to what others say.
Use dictionaries to check the meaning of words
In Year 3, your child will learn to use dictionaries to check the meaning of words they have read.
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 readers. For 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 plenty of simple and effective ways you can help your child with reading in Year 3. Here are our top tips.
1. Listen to your child read regularly
By Year 3, your child will probably have a free choice of the book they read as their home-school reader. Although your child will probably be doing some reading on their own, listening to them read is still really helpful.
Making time to listen means that you can help with any unfamiliar words and talk to them about the book to make sure that they understand. Seeing words in print is also good for your child’s other English skills – reading aloud helps them to understand the words, to spell them, and to see how grammar and punctuation are used to make meaning.
2. Keep reading to your child
Once your child can read on their own, it is tempting to leave them to get on with their own reading – but reading a book to them can be just as important as encouraging independent reading.
Reading to your child can help them develop language skills and comprehension. This is because it gives them access to books that they can’t yet read independently, such as longer novels. It also provides a great opportunity to bond, and can form part of a relaxing routine to help your child get ready for a good night’s sleep.
For books to read with your child, take a look at our free eBook library.
3. Don’t give up!
When your child reads more challenging books, there might be times when they struggle and want to stop. Help them through these patches by reading a bit with them to get them started or hooked into the next chapter.
Take it in turns to read a page or take on the role of particular characters or the narrator. Inventing different character voices is a great way to hook them in and distract them when they are feeling frustrated.
Our free eBook library has lots of books perfect for developing readers.
4. Talk about books, stories, and words
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 that begin with ‘how’ and ‘why’ can help them to think about what they’re reading. Try to get your child to go back to the text and pictures to tell you how they know the answer.
When reading stories, good readers are always thinking ahead to start to work out what might happen next. You can help your child become better at this by asking key questions such as:
I wonder if … will happen?
Who do you think will…?
5. Use pictures to discuss stories
Pictures are still a great way for your child to practise their comprehension skills.
Talk about what is happening in a picture, what the characters might be thinking, or what might happen next. Use a photo or picture on its own, or an illustration from a picture book, non-fiction book, or comic strip. Many popular books for children of this age (often called ‘middle grade books’) include illustrations as part of the story.
6. Explore word meanings together
When your child comes across a new word in their reading, talk together about what the word might mean. Encourage them to use the other words and sentences around it to try to work out the meaning.
Talk about other ways you could use the word. Give them an example of another sentence using the new word and encourage your child to do the same.