Let Children Learn to Read When Developmentally Ready

Written by on April 14, 2014 in Conscious Evolution, Conscious Living with 1 Comment
image_pdfimage_print

Laurie Levy  |  AlterNet  |  April 8 2014

How do we teach children the joy of reading? I’ll confess up front I am not a reading specialist, just an educator with 30 years of experience and a parent and grandparent of kids who love to read. And I’m concerned about the way the Common Core State Standards are promoting reading instruction by recommending the close reading technique for young children.

I’ll concede that close reading strategy, in which children read a nonfiction passage several times to extract key concepts, can be a valid tool when used appropriately with children who are old enough. The process calls for readers to reflect on the meanings of new words and make inferences based on what they have read. But my intuition tells me that this is neither the best way to teach young kids to love reading nor a method that will close the infamous achievement gap in our schools. If children don’t derive any joy from reading, they will see reading as a chore rather than a lifelong pleasure. When this happens, everyone loses.


In a recent Washington Post blog, Valerie Strauss highlights a rather sad resignation letter from Susan Sluyter, a kindergarten teacher in the Cambridge Public Schools and an educator for over 25 years. It’s a must-read for anyone who is concerned about what is happening to 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds in our schools. Sluyter shares:

“When I first began teaching more than 25 years ago, hands-on exploration, investigation, joy and love of learning characterized the early childhood classroom. I’d describe our current period as a time of testing, data collection, competition and punishment. One would be hard put these days to find joy present in classrooms….The overall effect of these federal and state sponsored programs is the corrosion of teacher morale, the demeaning of teacher authority, a move away from collaborating with teachers, and the creation of an overwhelming and developmentally inappropriate burden imposed on our children.”

Truth in Education confirms that child development experts are rightfully worried about our inappropriate approach to teaching young children.

I, too, lament the loss of developmentally appropriate teaching practices for our youngest students, especially those who are more vulnerable, less privileged, and less likely to learn the joy of reading at home. Recently, parents of second graders in my economically and racially diverse community received a note, co-signed by their school principal and PTA, extolling the virtues of close reading. The underlying message was that the teachers needed to “challenge each child to reach high levels of academic performance and personal achievement” in reading. The note said, in part,

Our 2nd grade team has started a cycle of inquiry focusing on a reading strategy called close reading. The team, through observation and data analysis, noticed that students were challenged in the following areas: vocabulary and extended response, difficulties locating textual evidence when reading, and low stamina when reading and conversing about text. Throughout the remainder of the school year, the 2nd grade team will monitor the effects of their shift in teaching practices through data collection and observation. This is a very exciting process for our teachers.…

Once I got past the education-speak, I wondered if this process is as “exciting” for the 7-year-olds who are supposed to derive a love of reading through this method as it supposedly is for the adults teaching them. But then I remembered: enjoying reading is beside the point here. The real point is for them to learn to achieve, both academically and personally. (The cynic in me can’t help but wonder if this isn’t just not-so-cleverly disguised test prep, in anticipation of a reading/writing test to be given soon.)


Keep reading

Tags: , , ,

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on YouTube

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

FAIR USE NOTICE. Many of the articles on this site contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making this material available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental issues, human rights, economic and political democracy, and issues of social justice. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law which contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. If you wish to use such copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use'...you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. And, if you are a copyright owner who wishes to have your content removed, let us know via the "Contact Us" link at the top of the site, and we will promptly remove it.

The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Conscious Life News assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms.

Paid advertising on Conscious Life News may not represent the views and opinions of this website and its contributors. No endorsement of products and services advertised is either expressed or implied.
Top
Send this to a friend