Andreas Demetriou, Christine Merrell and Peter Tymms have published a detailed analysis of the development of young children between the start of school and age 7. The data for this analysis came from CEM's PIPS assessments.
They found that the fifth year of a child's life brings with it important developmental changes in the ability to process information. At this age, it appears that many children are developing mental processes to map representations onto each other and integrate them into smoothly running complex skills. These processes are required for learning to read and write. Children are looking at letters, understanding their distinctive features and how they group together in patterns that form words.
This finding has implications for teaching and learning; it is helpful to know about this important 'time window' that occurs in the fifth year of many children's lives so that we can really capitalise on the opportunity of helping them to acquire literacy skills just at the time when the mental processes in their brains are ready to process that information. Interventions aimed at helping children to recognise representations associated with letters and words are more likely to succeed in this short time window than before or after.
This is just one finding from the research, and if you would like to read the full paper, the reference is:
Demetriou, A., Merrell, C. and Tymms, P. (in press). Mapping and Predicting Literacy and Reasoning Skills from Early to Later Primary School, Learning and Individual Differences, 24(2017), 217 – 225.