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Is teaching reading at an early age worth it?

Do children who cut their teeth early become better eaters? Do children who walk early become better walkers? I am often asked by parents of 4, 5 and 6-year-old children, “My child is not reading yet. Should I be worried about that?” I respond with other questions: Is Johnny able to dress himself? Can Suzie ride a bike without training wheels, do a coordinated jumping jack and cartwheel? Can your child look at a tree and determine if it is a good climbing tree? Build a fort? Pick up and ordinary object and creatively turn it into something else to fit their play theme?

In the United States, there is a widespread belief that teaching children to read early — in kindergarten or even pre-kindergarten — will help them be better readers in the long-run. Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence that this is so! Let me repeat, there is no evidence that supports the belief that teaching children to read early will help them become better readers. When they are ready, when their brain’s neurological connections for interpreting abstract symbols into a story are established, they will read.

If you or your well-meaning parents, aunts, uncles, friends and neighbors share this concern, then I encourage you to read the following article published by the Alliance for Childhood. You need to be informed with the scientific evidence that will give you a strong foundation to your common sense. If you do not have this concern, then reading this article is a good way to polish your armor. “Founded by educators and health professionals out of deep concern for the well-being of children, the Alliance for Childhood advocates for policies and practices that support children’s healthy development, love of learning and joy in living. It promotes a healthy and creative childhood for all children through its Decade for Childhood project, focusing on the importance of play-based learning, and restoring play throughout childhood. The Alliance provides resources, for educators, care givers, parents, grandparents, policy-makers and community leaders."

In the article, from The Alliance for Childhood and Defending the Early years, the case is strongly made for supporting our philosophy and curriculum at The Playgarden preschool and kindergarten. I often explain that what we do at The Playgarden instills a love of story, which grows into a love of literature, and eventually a love for reading. Do not be fooled. The rote memorization of beginning and ending sounds and sight words is not reading. It is memorization of isolated fractured tidbits.

There is plenty of scientific evidence that supports The Playgarden’s belief that an early childhood program that provides a generous opportunity for imaginative play, hands on purposeful work and a love for story lays the strongest foundation for academic learning. Plenty of evidence for the benefits of play versus no evidence for teaching children to read early. Then why is it being done?


Miss Lynn Coalson

Forest Kindergarten Lead Teacher

Read on…

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