Sign up FAST! Login

Requiring kindergartners to read — as Common Core does — may harm some

Report: Requiring kindergartners to read â as Common Core does â may harm some - The Washington Post

The Common Core State Standards call for kindergartners to learn how to read, but a new report by early childhood experts says that forcing some kids to read before they are ready could be harmful.

Two organizations that advocate for early childhood education — Defending the Early Years and Alliance for Childhood — issued the report titled “Reading in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose.”  It says there is no evidence to support a widespread belief in the United States that children must read in prekindergarten or kindergarten to become strong readers and achieve academic success.

The authors — Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin and Joan Wolfsheimer Almon — found that:

  • Many children are not developmentally ready to read in kindergarten, yet the Common Core State Standards require them to do just that. This is leading to inappropriate classroom practices.
  • No research documents long-term gains from learning to read in kindergarten.
  • Research shows greater gains from play-based programs than from preschools and kindergartens with a more academic focus.
  • Children learn through playful, hands-on experiences with materials, the natural world, and engaging, caring adults.
  • Active, play-based experiences in language-rich environments help children develop their ideas about symbols, oral language and the printed word — all vital components of reading.
  • We are setting unrealistic reading goals and frequently using inappropriate methods to accomplish them.
  • In play-based kindergartens and preschools, teachers intentionally design language and literacy experiences which help prepare children to become fluent readers.
  • The adoption of the Common Core State Standards falsely implies that having children achieve these standards will overcome the impact of poverty on development and learning, and will create equal educational opportunity for all children.

The report says that kindergarten has since the 1980s become increasingly academic — with big pushes from President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and President Obama’s Race to the Top — and that today many children are being asked to do things they are not ready to do. It says:

Under the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) the snowball has escalated into an avalanche which threatens to destroy appropriate and effective approaches to early education. The kindergarten standards, in use in over 40 states, place huge emphasis on print literacy and state bluntly that, by the end of kindergarten, children are to “read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding.” Large amounts of time and money are being devoted to this goal, and its impact is felt strongly in many preschools as well.

Many children are not developmentally ready to read in kindergarten. In addition, the pressure of implementing the standards leads many kindergarten teachers to resort to inappropriate didactic methods combined with frequent testing. Teacher-led instruction in kindergartens has almost entirely replaced the active, play-based, experiential learning that we know children need from decades of research in cognitive and developmental psychology and neuroscience.

When children have educational experiences that are not geared to their developmental level or in tune with their learning needs and cultures, it can cause them great harm, including feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and confusion. A grandmother from Massachusetts told this story:

My 5-year-old grandson adored his play-based preschool, but it was a different story when he started an all-day, very academic, public kindergarten. From the first day he had mostly worksheets and table tasks, which he said were “hard.” On the fifth day of kindergarten he refused to go to school, locked himself in his bedroom, and hid under his bed!

Here from the report are some examples from the Core that the authors cite as inappropriate for many kindergartners:

The CCSS website states, “Students advancing through the grades are expected to meet each year’s grade-specific standards and retain or further develop skills and understandings mastered in preceding grades.” However, there is no evidence that mastering these standards in kindergarten rather than in first grade brings lasting gains. To achieve them usually calls for long hours of drill and worksheets — and reduces other vital areas of learning such as math, science, social studies, art, music and creative play.

Fluency CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.4: Read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding.

Print Concepts CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.1.D: Recognize and name all upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet.

Phonics and Word Recognition CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.3.B: Associate the long and short sounds with common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.K.9: With prompting and support, identify basic similarities in and differences between two texts on the same topic (e.g., in illustrations, descriptions, or procedures).

Research to Build and Present Knowledge CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.7: Participate in shared research and writing projects.

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.4.B: Use the most frequently occurring inflections and affixes (e.g., -ed, -s, re-, un-, pre-, -ful, -less) as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word.

The authors call for the withdrawal and rewriting of the kindergarten Common Core standards. Other recommendations from the report are:

  • Invest in high quality, long-term research to identify which approaches in preschool and kindergarten best help children become fluent readers by fourth grade and beyond, paying particular attention to children living in poverty.
  • Convene a task force of early childhood educators to recommend developmentally appropriate, culturally responsive guidelines for supporting young children’s optimal learning from birth to age 8.
  • End the use of high-stakes testing with children up to third grade and the use of test scores for teacher evaluation and the closing of schools.
  • Promote the use of assessments that are based on observations of children, their development and learning.
  • Ensure a high level of professionalism for all early childhood educators. Strive to reduce the income achievement gap by placing experienced teachers in low-income communities. Invest in high-quality teacher preparation and ongoing professional development.

Stashed in: Children, Education!, Awesome, education, Parenting, Education

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

Essentially every child needs to learn at her or his own pace?

Forcing things on people is rarely a good idea, and especially little children!  Let the child's natural interest and curiosity be encouraged and guided.  All of the Early Childhood Education research shows that!  They call it a Process focus, if I'm not mistaken. Fear is well-known to inhibit performance and learning at any age.

You're right. Which is why the Common Core is inappropriate as a standard.

Tina & Janill, I also totally agree.

I'm no expert at raising kids, but I am a practitioner doing it with my own first-born.  I was shocked and immediately educated by how she showed up at birth entirely her own little person, as opposed to a blank slate that we were supposed to write on and give knowledge.  

She's educating herself at her own pace and my wife and I are not in any damn hurry to make her do things she's not interested in nor ready to do.  I'm amazed now noticing how many parents talk so competitively and in performance-based terms both to and about their children... but then I've always been a lazy guy who likes to loaf and laugh a lot, 

Baby, if you want to hold the fork that way and put food all over your face, go ahead – have fun.  I certainly am by just watching you!

The best that I can see thats working fine for my daughter for 18 months now is simply cultivating her curiosity with gentle encouragement, playing with her on her own level from time to time (easy for guys to do – we're emotional equals at that age), laughing daily and mostly just getting out of her way through some benign neglect, instead of constant attention and comment (that's the hardest part because I love being around her). 

So while other parents and Common Core rush their kids to an early grave of childhood, I'm meandering along with our daughter – we never taught her to stop crawling and walk, nor to talk, but she's doing both things fine enough at this point simply by allowing her innate curiosity and laughter to rule the day every day.  First sentence she ever spoke:

What is that?

She'll find that out and more on her own schedule!  Common Core can go to hell, along with hyper-parenting, but that's just my experience and contrarian nature talking, based on the science and sound of one data point clapping...


Einstein children meme great minds have fun yep Imgur

(apologies to readers: I don't know how to size uploads and would have preferred these be posted as smaller pics)

Adorable! :)

Super cute!!!

"Benign neglect" is a great way to frame your non-practice.  :)

I'm staring a constitutional amendment that all politicians much have gotten at least a B in science to be elected. 

Wouldn't it be fun if politicians had to pass a high school science test to run for office?

Rob, we have no resizing here -- whatever size it is, it is.

Great minds should have fun but they should also take care not to let the kid stab anyone with the fork.

We're not totally irresponsible – we won't starting weapons training until she's at least 2 years old.

And at 18 months she's still sitting strapped into a high chair, which only an alternate universe or mystic power would make her fork wielding a real stabbing probability.

As for me, I accept the risks of getting into her arms reach as part of the occupational hazard of being a dad.  So far, no fork wounds and only hugs and kisses, so I'm in range a lot.

I love having a daughter.

You May Also Like: