Kindergartner Isabella Bjornson and her mother, Jo Ann, attend a school ice cream social at Madison Manor Park in Arlington on Sept. 9. (J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post)

Regarding the Sept. 26 Metro article “For youngest students, rigors right out of the gate”:

As a pediatric neurologist, I was delighted to read about the demands of kindergarten, but we should not forget about the developing brain. Between ages 4 and 7, brain development is especially dramatic with respect to connections “getting up to speed,” made possible by the laying down of the insulating material called myelin wrapping around the long nerve fibers. There is great variation in the timetable of this developmental process. The state of development of these fast connections determines readiness to read and write.

If a child is not ready to read or to write, there are several consequences to “premature education,” including the brain developing “detour pathways” that become habits that persist despite later maturation of the appropriately speedy connections. The consequence of making kindergarten the new first grade is not only the deprivation of play, imaginative creativity and socialization.

We need to be aware of the less obvious consequences of premature education,  including its harmful effect on brains that are unready to learn comfortably.

Martha Bridge Denckla, Baltimore