Well, this is a very common, yet a paramount issue that parents have to deal with when their child is going to grade school for the first time. It is not only unnerving for kids, but twice more for the parents.
Going to grade school means, seeing your kids crying for not wanting to go and parents whether they would be alright or not. While this may be common, the actual results may vary from parent to parent as kids have different attitudes and behavioural patterns.
However, it depends mainly on how parents take it. For example, getting your Kindergartner ready for grade school does not mean that you have to force them to change their daily routines. In other words, playtime should not be directly substituted with academics.
According to a recent report titled, Reading Instruction in Kindergarten – Little to Gain and Much to Lose, has raised a new concern about the changing nature and behaviour of Kindergartners. It has prompted the concern that Kindergartners are expected that after coming out of school, they should be more involved in academics.
It is the parent who should analyse at what age a child needs to learn how to read. For a child aged five or six years, with little or no interest in stringing letters into words, there is not much reason for you to worry as a parent. Children gradually learn and there is no need for the parent to get worried.
Sebastian Suggate, a professor at the Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences in Bonn, Germany, studied early childhood reading and found no proof of long-term benefits for children on how they were taught to read in kindergarten. Kids who grasp how to read later do similarly and just as well as in academics and scholastic measurements by the time they attain the age of 11, as those who were aged five years when they were taught how to read.
Finland is the place where the above theory can be substantiated. They believe that kids imbibe the process of learning best through play, and should enter school with the zest and zeal to learn. The students here consistently excel in ranks and score amongst the top 10 at the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) scale. The formal education procedure and reading instructions are imparted to these kids at the age of seven years. This is preceded by years of free day care through the age of five and one year of pre-schooling or kindergarten at the age of six.
According to most parents, kids should not and do not require any stern drilling to learn how to read. A child’s foundation skills are highly attributed to his early reading ability. Usually, kids learn to read words and short sentences by the time he acquires the age of six. This is regarded as a natural progression arising from the prominence of literacy or by taking up and simulating the reading and writing behaviour.
Along with the montessori method, quite a few schooling philosophies are based on the idea of helping a child tread the path to literacy early in his formative years. Not everyone has the same potential and knack to learning, and some of them do require specialist support. However, constant nagging and pushing kids to imbibe reading is beyond their capacity, and before they are quite prepared forms a difficult to dispense negative attitude toward reading. This is detrimental for the educational growth of the child in years to come, given that it is difficult to reverse.
Assistant professor at the University of Washington’s Institute of Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS), Jason Yeatman, explains that during brain development, there is substantial and widespread variability in the timing and the rate of maturation from one child to another. “Particularly when we look at the brain’s reading circuitry, kids’ growth rates are quite heterogeneous,” Yeatman says. “A one-size-fits-all model of education is surely an inferior model with comparison to a model that tailors instruction to an individual’s needs.”
Despite the argument advocating for a child-led pathway to literacy, it does not fully justify not introducing literacy concepts and educational habits early on in the child’s life. Many experts are of the notion that they should be undoubtedly trained at a former age. The advantage in building an early foundation lies in the much acquitted to the fact that students who struggle to learn or have a slower development of abilities, or lack basic language skills (which is an impediment to reading) can be distinguished and reached out to. This, however, in no way means suddenly introducing a child to a performance-focused, competitive environment, as it drains the child of enthusiasm as in such a program the kids are consistently evaluated and drilled both by teachers as well as by parents.
Backed up by a number of research reports, it has been established that the best way to encourage and promote foundational literacy is through Playschools. While the brain of a child enjoys while at play, it also learns, mainly from simple experiences. Studies indicate greater benefits associated with attendance at a play-based preschool as in comparison with a performance-evaluating pre-school.
According to a longitudinal study done in Germany in the 1970s, where play-based schooling was contrasted with channelized and focused learning kindergartens, kids had a greater range of learning and showed higher excellence rates in all the seventeen criteria that were evaluated. This led to a reverting of German kindergartens to the original play-based learning methodology.
Teachers devote time and attention to enable the child to learn through engagement in meaningful and intentional experiences, and the curriculum is designed to help them develop the art of reading with fluency. While no specific age can be decisively established for a child to begin learning from, it has been demonstrated time to time that, Playschools are indeed a great environment to lay the foundation bricks as a preface to the vast education system that lies ahead.
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