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Written communication involves components of the physical performance of handwriting, typing, spelling, grammar and story planning.

Note: Each stage of development assumes that the preceding stages have been successfully achieved.

How to use this chart: Review the skills demonstrated by the child up to their current age. If you notice skills that have not been met below their current age contact Kid Sense Child Development on 1800 KIDSENSE (1800 543 736).

 Age Developmental milestonesPossible implications if milestones not achieved
 0-12 months
  • None
  • None
1-2 years
  • May pretend to read when others are reading
  • The child may not have an interest in books
2-3 years
  • Learns to distinguish print from pictures
  • May pretend to read when others are reading
  • The child may not have an interest in books
 3-4 years
  • Basic shapes (-,|,O)
  • Begins to recognise numbers 1-5
  • Learns to recognise and name letters
  • Knows some letter names and can identify 10 (usually if it’s in their name)
  • Knows that print is what you read
  • Learns to recognise their name in print
  • May recognise environmental print on signs
    and labels (e.g. reads the word ‘stop’ on a stop sign)
  • Knows to read from front to back
  • Learns left-right progression of print
  • The child may have difficulties counting and recognising numbers
  • The child may have difficulties learning to write their name
4-5 years
  • Complete mastery of pre-writing shapes (-,|,O,+,/,square,\,X, triangle)
  • Able to write name
  • Knows some letter names and can identify 10 (usually if it’s in their name)
  • Recognises and able to write numbers 1-5
  • Learns alphabet song
  • Learns to recognise and name letters
  • Learns that letters ‘have’ sounds (i.e.
    grapheme-phoneme relationship awareness)
  • Knows that print is what you read
  • Learns clusters of letters separated by
    space, form words
  • Learns to recognise their name in print
  • May recognise environmental print on signs and labels (e.g. reads the word ‘stop’ on a stop sign)
  • Knows to read from front to back
  • Learns left-right progression of print
  • The child may have difficulty with recognising the difference between letters versus sounds and applying this knowledge when attempting reading and writing tasks
  • The child may have trouble with identifying and reading print correctly in a book
5-6 years
  • Learns alphabetic principle (i.e. words are made up of sounds; sounds can be represented by letters)
  • Learns all letter names and letter sounds for consonants
  • Knows all numbers
  • Learns sounds for vowels
  • Matches letters to sounds (grapheme-phoneme correspondence)
  • Learns to decode by identifying sounds for printed letters and synthesising sounds across letters to form words
  • Learns some words by sight
  • Starts to track print when listening to a familiar story
  • May read a few short, regularly spelled words (e.g. their names or their classmate’s names)
  • Able to write basic words that are recognisable
  • Begins to put sentences together
  • Able to write regular words, by listening for the sounds, using the 42 letter sounds
  • The child may struggle with reading and
    writing (e.g. the child will be unable to accurately sound out words when reading or spell words correctly)
  • The child may have trouble with reading and spelling sight words
  • The child may have difficulty with tracking words when reading
6-7 years
  • Begins to learn conventions for punctuation, capitalisation and other conventions of print
  • Writes complete sentences, with punctuation
  • Begins to use alternative spellings in writing
  • The child may struggle with reading and writing (e.g. the child will be unable to accurately sound out words when reading
    or spell words correctly)
  • The child may have trouble with reading and spelling sight words
  • The child may have difficulty with tracking words when reading
  • The child may have difficulties using appropriate punctuation, capitalisation and other conventions of print
7-8 years
  • Knows the conventions for punctuation, capitalisation and other conventions of print
  • Writes at least 2 sentences consecutively with appropriate grammar and punctuation
  • Transitions from emergent to “real” reader
  • Recognises more words by sight
  • More phonic patterns are recognised to increase automaticity of decoding (e.g. silent ‘e’ rule)
  • As reading becomes more automatic, more attention is focused on comprehension
  • Reading moves towards fluency
  • The child may have difficulties using appropriate punctuation, capitalisation and other conventions of print
  • Unfamiliar people may find it difficult to read the child’s spelling and writing attempts
  • The child may struggle with reading words fluently

This chart was designed to serve as a functional screening of developmental skills per age group.  It does not constitute an assessment nor reflect strictly standardised research.

The information in this chart was compiled over many years from a variety of sources. This information was then further shaped by years of clinical practice as well as therapeutic consultation with child care, pre-school and school teachers in South Australia about the developmental skills necessary for children to meet the demands of these educational environments. In more recent years, it has been further modified by the need for children and their teachers to meet the functional Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) requirements that are not always congruent with standardised research.