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When Do Kids Learn How to Rhyme?

By Tara Drinks

At a Glance

  • Rhyming is an important skill for reading.

  • Young kids learn to rhyme at different rates.

  • You can help your child get better at rhyming.

“Try them, try them, and you may!

Try them and you may, I say.” 

—Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham

Did you grow up hearing the tale of Sam-I-Am and green eggs and ham? To kids, this Dr. Seuss classic is just a fun book of silly rhymes. But rhyming is actually an important skill for reading. It teaches kids how language works.

When do kids learn how to rhyme? Some kids get the idea of rhyming when they’re very young. Others need a little more time to develop the skill. And some need extra help to understand what rhyming is.

Read on to learn more about when kids learn to rhyme.

When Do Kids Usually Learn to Rhyme?

Young kids develop at very different rates, so the ability to rhyme doesn’t come to all kids at the same time. Learning to rhyme also happens in stages. But most kids can rhyme by the time they’re able to read.

Here’s when kids typically develop rhyming skills:

  • Age 3: Able to join in rhyming games

  • Age 4: Recognize words that rhyme

  • Kindergarten: Produce sounds that rhyme

After that, kids are usually able to come up with their own rhymes.

Rhyming requires kids to hear the sounds and syllables in words. Those are early reading skills that help kids decode (sound out) words.

Why Kids Might Have Trouble Rhyming

Kids struggle with rhyming for different reasons. One is that they have trouble with a skill called phonological awareness. This includes the ability to connect letters with sounds, which is key to reading.

Kids may also be confused by which sounds in a word need to match. If teachers ask them to find words with the same sound, kids may look at the first sounds, like the “buh” sound in bat and bed. But for rhyming, the sounds at the end of words need to match, like the “at” sound in bat and cat.

Attention can also be a factor. If kids have trouble with focus, they may tune out at some point. That’s especially true when they’re asked to produce rhymes.

How You Can Help With Rhyming at Home

Practicing at home can help your child make strides with rhyming. Here are some quick and fun things you can do whenever it’s convenient for you:

  • Read a nursery rhyme (or a rhyming story).

  • Sing rhyming songs or point out rhymes in your favorite songs.

  • Play rhyming games and other word games. For example, have your child come up with words that rhyme or words that start with the same sound.

If you’re concerned that your young child doesn’t get rhyming, talk to the kindergarten or first-grade teacher. Teachers can be a great source of information. They can also suggest next steps to take.

Key Takeaways

  • Most kids can rhyme by the time they can read.

  • Some kids need extra help learning to rhyme.

  • Sing rhyming songs or point out rhymes in your favorite songs.


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