A recent post on a new report calling into question the practice of forcing young children to read to meet Common Core standards generated hundreds of responses from educators and parents. The report, written by three experts in early childhood education, said that requiring some youngsters to read before they are ready could be harmful.
There are plenty of young children who can learn to read in kindergarten or earlier. But there are also plenty who aren’t ready. Years ago students were given more time to develop literacy skills without being seen as falling behind or flat-out failures, but academic standards call for students to read in kindergarten and certainly in first grade.
The report, titled “Reading in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose,” says that there is no evidence to support the widespread belief that children must read in prekindergarten or kindergarten to become strong readers and achieve academic success. It also says:
Many children are not developmentally ready to read in kindergarten. In addition, the pressure of implementing the standards leads many kindergarten teachers to resort to inappropriate didactic methods combined with frequent testing. Teacher-led instruction in kindergartens has almost entirely replaced the active, play-based, experiential learning that we know children need from decades of research in cognitive and developmental psychology and neuroscience.
Here are a few comments written by readers, and after these is an e-mail from a stay at home mom of four boys that is particularly telling.
7:17 AM EST
Children in kindergarten need to learn to love language, written and spoken. Whether they learn to read then or a year later, as most of us did long ago, doesn’t matter.
1/20/2015 12:22 AM EST
My son and daughter, who were twins, were slow to read. Our older daughter read at 4, easily, but did more poorly later. The twins came slowly to reading. My son was struggling in 3rd grade, until he and I discovered military history, which he was pretty interested in. Find a subject that interests the child. That is very important. I worked with them both quite a bit with phonemes, but some come slower than others. Today, my son is getting a masters in a STEM discipline, and my daughter is going to go to grad school. The early reader ended up not doing nearly as well.
Here is the text of an e-mail I received from a mother, Claudia Zonca:
I am a SAH [stay at home] mother of 4 boys (ages 11, 10, 6, and 4.)
My first-grade son LOVED preschool and has always been a very bright and curious child. He has always loved to look through books since a very young age. (I would put baby board books in his crib when he would wake up early and that would keep him occupied for up to an hour.) We have even put a bookshelf in the bathroom for him to look through his books in solitude (maybe the only place in the house where no one will bug him?!?!).
Both my husband and I are college educated, affluent… I thought I was doing everything “right” in regards to education and early reading.
Kindergarten was a struggle for him (he has a late July birthday and is one of the younger children in his class.) He often came home complaining that school is just “work work work.”
Based on his testing for reading, he has consistently scored low when compared to his peers which honestly shocks everyone that I tell who truly knows him. He is a very verbal, imaginative, descriptive, and an overall smart kid.
Now in first grade, he goes to school an hour early two mornings a week and is taken from the classroom everyday for a literacy group. He recently told me that he wanted to stop eating so he would die so he didn’t have to go to school anymore. (Did I mention he is dramatic?!)
Our evenings have become worksheets and online computer reading programs for him to “catch up.” He is aware of his classmates reading levels and he quickly goes through books online to try to reach their levels. Gone are the days of snuggling together and reading picture books for the enjoyment of just reading!
…. He’s a 6 year old child. He will do just fine in school and life despite is lower Fountas and Pinnell reading level. He needs to be back in my bed, in pajamas, laying next to me reading for enjoyment and love.
You may also be interested in: