There are many opinions on this topic. Recently, some private schools in New York City, have announced that they are not teaching reading until first grade or later. This decision was based on the idea that kindergarten should be a social rather than an academic experience. These schools felt that early reading does not predict future success. Many parents disagree with this policy. One parent said, “ I don’t think any child should ever be told that they should wait to learn anymore than a child should be placed in an environment where the pace is too quick for them.”
(From an article in The New York Times)
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Position Statement on Learning to Read and Write says that:
“Good teachers understand that children do not progress along this developmental continuum in rigid sequence. Rather, each child exhibits a unique pattern and timing in acquiring skills and understanding related to reading and writing. Like other complex skills, reading and writing are outcomes that result from the continual interplay of development and learning, and therefore a range of individual variation is to be expected in the rate and pace at which children gain literacy skills. Given exposure to appropriate literacy experiences and good teaching during early childhood, most children learn to read at age six or seven, a few learn at four, some learn at five, and others need intensive individualized support to learn to read at eight or nine.”
NAEYC’s position statement also states that: The single most important activity for building understanding and skills essential for reading success appears to be reading aloud to children (Wells 1985; Bus, Van Ijzendoorn, & Pellegrini 1995).
I feel each child should be looked at as an individual. Parents and/or teachers should be able to work with each child according to their interests and abilities. Setting a policy that all children should learn to read at Kindergarten (or first grade) for example, excludes the child who may be ready to read earlier or frustrates the child who may not be ready to read yet.
What policy exists in your child’s school? What are your beliefs as a parent ?