Ready to read

abc-blocksI was sent an extremely interesting Lilipoh article written by Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrician Dr. Susan Johnson. She argues that we push our children to read and write before they are developmentally ready – and I agree. For a multitude of reasons, our curriculum has changed over the years. We are now expecting Kindergartners to do what First Graders used to do. The problem is the children are not ready, and in the end we are creating learning and behavioral issues by pushing them before they are ready (more on that another time).

When you have time, read the article because it is fascinating and really explains the physical and neurological link to learning to read and write. When I first started teaching, I heard a mentor ask parents who were concerned about their children’s reading if their children’s teeth had fallen out yet. I was as skeptical as the parents when she explained that there was a link between physical maturity and readiness to read. Despite my skepticism, I came to agree. Johnson doesn’t mention teeth, but does use other developmental markers as indicators of reading readiness.

Parents need to be put at ease. Too many are stressed that their 3 year old can’t read or that their 2 year old doesn’t recognize all of the letters of the alphabet. In Teaching our Children to Read, Write and Spell, Johnson says:

“Our preschools and kindergartens need to fill their curriculums with play consisting of lots of sensory integration activities that will strengthen fine motor movements, visual motor abilities, balance, muscle tone, proprioception, as well as strengthen children’s social and emotional development. Activities like imaginary play, climbing, running, jumping, hopping, skipping, walking the balance beam, playing circle games, singing, playing catch, doing meaningful chores, painting, coloring, playing hand-clapping games, doing string games, and finger knitting will strengthen their minds for learning. Children need these healthy, harmonious, rhythmic, and noncompetitive movements to develop their brains. For it is the movements of their body that create the pathways in their mind for reading, writing, spelling, mathematics, and creative thinking.”

Amen! This article is a great reminder that a child’s play is one of the greatest pathways for them to become future readers and writers.

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04 2009

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