Is teaching reading and writing inappropriate?

Discussion in 'Kindergarten' started by EBKLYN, Feb 2, 2007.

  1. EBKLYN

    EBKLYN Companion

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    Hi,

    When I share with other educators about balance literacy in a kindergarten classroom the feedback I get is that it is inappropriate.

    I mostly find that a lot of the educators that I have spoken to have or been teaching in schools for many, many years. They are of the opinion that today's kindergarteners are losing out especially in the social development area. They are of the opinion that there is less emphasis on this and that teaching the students to read and write at such a young age is inappropriate?

    What do you feel?
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Interesting questions. Some kids are ready and more than ready - I know a kid who pretty much taught herself to read well before age 3 (well, all right, mom and dad both read to her a lot), and I myself was reading when I wasn't much older; other kids just sort of don't get the hang of it till first grade. Do we hold back the kids who are ready for the sake of the ones who aren't? Do we push the kids who aren't ready for the sake of the ones who are?

    This opens yet again the dispiriting question of whether one-size-fits-all approaches are appropriate in public education. If they are, then lockstep progression makes sense. If they're not, however, then it seems to me that We As A Whole have some serious thinking to do about how schools work - including just what it is that we expect teachers to accomplish and how much rope we're going to give them to accomplish it with, which raises further issues as regards teacher preparation and as regards programs dictated from on high, and at this point I'm edging toward a soapbox that it's kind of hard to get me off...

    But it will be interesting to see what other reactions there are.
     
  4. vannapk

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    This is all JMHO, but since you asked...I know there are many who feel it is inappropriate to teach reading and writing in K, however, the fact is that is the way things are now. What used to be Kindergarten is now Pre-k and what used to be first grade is now Kindergarten and so on. I'm of the "if you can't beam 'em join 'em" mindset- but make it as much fun as you possibly can in the process ;)

    I think those who feel it is inappropriate to teach reading and writing in K remember the days when it was considered to be inappropriate, but things have changed. Many young children are capable of learning much more than we ever give them credit for. When I went to college it was all about being "DAP" (developmentally appropriate), but if done in fun and engaging ways I know that young children can learn to read and write- even in Pre-K, my own class is doing it right now. Today student M wrote: "I like to play wf Madsen", she knows the sight words "like", "to", and "play" and she sounded out "Madison" and "with". We sing songs for all of our sight words and they picked them up quickly this way. There is still room in the day to socialize and have fun, you just have to get creative. If you only teach half-day K though, that's an entirely different story- there isn't room for anything in half-day.

    I teach full-day pre-k in a public school district and we are currently reading Katie Wood Ray's Writing Workshop with Our Youngest Writers and Debbie Miller's Reading With Meaning. Next year the district has informed us we will be implementing readers workshop and writers workshop in all pre-k classrooms district wide. If they think it's inappropriate to teach it in Kinder I wonder what they will say about it being taught in Pre-K :eek:
     
  5. TeacherShelly

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    I've got one foot on TG's soapbox ... and one on my own! I'll try to be succinct. I believe it is inappropriate to expect every child to learn to read and write in kindergarten. It is also unacceptable to hold someone back when they are ready.

    I'm student teaching in an alternative public school where more than half the parents opt their children out of STAR testing. There are some K/1, 2/3, and 4/5 combined classrooms, and some single-grade K - 5 classes. It's a developmental school and each child's performance is measured against her own previous performance. No one is compared to others. It's also a parent participation school.

    This is the closest I've seen to a public school meeting individual children's needs.

    Top-driven programs handed down for all children are destined to fail at least some kids. Children all develop on their own time table and none of them are wrong for them, just not always right for a benchmark.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

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    I'm almost sorry to hear your parents are opting out of the testing, changeofcareer - would love to see the scores coming out of a setting like yours, since I'll cheerfully wager the mortgage that they'd confirm most or all of my pet theories about learning and testing.
     
  7. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    I don't think it is inappropriate at all to teach reading and writing in K! My theory is we should be exposing kids to language all the time... and we should be teaching reading and writing as two related subjects.. ya know, if I can write it , I can read it type thinking. Reading and writing are something we all, ( yes, even K's) do all the time.

    Do I think it's fair to teach children in the same way, absolutely not! But I don't have much choice do I?

    I think Kindergarten should be about exposure... and that means reading, writing, listening and speaking.....
     
  8. AllysonKinder

    AllysonKinder Rookie

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    Oh I definitely think its appropriate. To what extent depends on the child, some will be ready to write sentences while some will be ready to write one word. You have to meet the child where they are, not make them fit into a mold. I agree that socialization is key though and I think this can be done thru music and PE time, recess, art, centers, story time where they have to sit in close proximity to each other, etc.

    I had one dad tell me that "I dont care if he learns to read, as long as he learns to play well with others" which I agree is an important life long skill BUT that kid is gonna be left WAY behind in 1st grade b/c as vannapk said, kinder is what used to be 1st, 1st is what used to be 2nd, etc. Even in Louisiana where our educational system is less than stellar, you have got to learn to read or at least have a real knowledge of letters, sounds and know how to blend phonemes in 1st grade.
     
  9. TeacherShelly

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    TG, I know what you mean about the scores. I can tell you that another school modeled on this one does the STAR tests and are up there trading years in the top spot with the two "sought after" schools in their district.

    To clarify my position, I believe it is inappropriate to expect kindergartners to read and write. I think it's wrong to put a benchmark up and hold all 5 year olds accountable to it. Why would anyone do that, anyway?
     
  10. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    Exposure, not mastery....exposure, not mastery.

    That's my philosophy on the subject. Expecting kids to master reading and writing in K is inappropriate. Exposing them to reading and writing skills is very appropriate.

    I'm also in the "if you can't beat them, join them" camp. I teach PreK, and when I first started (13 years ago), we were forbidden from even hanging an alphabet strip in the room. Now, our curriculum has evolved into a very heavily phonics based program and we do journals three times a week. We also have specific, standards based curriculum in all seperate subject areas (science, math, ss and LA) - no more themes! It's almost what first grade used to be, forget about Kindergarten!

    Kim
     
  11. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Yes, me too!

    LOL, about the big swing you've seen. What state are you in with standards for PreK?
     
  12. EBKLYN

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    Now that is very very scary to me.:eek:
     
  13. EBKLYN

    EBKLYN Companion

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    I welcome the forum's input on this post. I find the views very interesting.

    What is also interesting to me is that I haven't heard anyone mention the parents feedback on these expectation of their kindergarteners.

    In my years of teaching experience in kindergarten, I have had many parents ask me if I am a regular or gifted teacher. They are very surprise when I tell them that I am not a gifted teacher.

    Just today I had a discussion with a parent who is quite taken by the level of reading and writing that her child does and he is not even six years old. She said that the country where she comes from the students do not start school until they are six years old.

    Now her problem is that she doesn't know whether it would be right to place him in a gifted first grade class or regular class. She is thinking about this because like she says that the level of work that he has put in with me she feels like he will lose it in a regular first grade class.

    The State expects teachers to be educated and to teacher to these benchmarks but I find that a lot of parents are not in the know of what benchmarks are expected of their children. The reason why I am mentioning this is because a lot of parents that I am in contact with feel that because their child can read a Level 2 of Level 3 ECLAS book it warrants that there child be tested for a gifted class.

    What do you think about this?
     
  14. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    I think for a child to be "gifted" there should be a focus on the whole child and not just the reading aspect of it. However, I think if schools provided more parent training or workshops to educate parents that parents wouldn't be so quick to jump on the gifted bandwagon.


    There are multiple intelligences, let's remember and this should be considered.
     
  15. TeacherGroupie

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    That there's a huge difference between high-achieving and gifted. The high achiever is the kid whose thinking is ahead of grade level but not eyebrow-raisingly so. The gifted kid is the kid who's consistently coming up with concepts that have everyone wondering "Where did that come from?" - and sometimes "Where'd this kid come from??" High achievers work hard, do something outstanding, and are very proud of themselves. Gifted kids get derailed because they know how much better whatever they're doing ought to have been - that's one of the reasons so many gifted kids crash and burn, because they've got the cognitive capacity to know how it ought to be before they acquire the physical skills to pull it off and the maturational skills to forgive themselves for not being good at absolutely everything.

    High-achieving kids, depending on just how far ahead they've gotten, can probably be taken care of fairly straightforwardly in a differentiated classroom. Whether gifted kids can be depends on a variety of factors, including the gifted kid, the teacher, the cohort, and so on, though as a rule I'd bet against it for the very simple reason that the teacher more or less HAS to focus on everyone else in the room or else risk overall low test scores.

    And a class that's supposed to be gifted but that is stocked mostly with high achievers is a waste of time for both the gifted kid and for the high achievers - the freewheeling brainplay that characterizes true giftedness isn't going to happen.

    Do I think this means that gifted kids should always be segregated from other kids? No: nobody should be ghettoized. But pull-out programs have serious disadvantages too.
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

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    I will add, Frizz - with a disheartened sigh - that all the parent workshops in the world won't dissuade some parents from believing that their darling has got to be in the gifted class. The problem is, of course, much more acute in areas of high socio-economic status, where having a kid in the gifted class sometimes seems to be a sort of trophy.
     
  17. EBKLYN

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    I fully agree with you on this. To add to what you stated I also think the school has some play in what these parents believe and expect in order to look good.
     
  18. dcnuck

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    I don't see anything wrong with teaching reading & writing in K. I teach pre k and we do a lot of writing and emphasis on sounds and letters. I do have some that write very well and are starting to read. Like vannapk says prek is K and K is 1st grade now. Changeof career hit the nail on the head. The problem I see with things is that they are lumping kids into one category---everything is either black or white and no gray. Kids need to be able to go by their abilities not ALL expected to be able to do something just because some of them can. Not all kids are ready to write much less read at these young ages. Not all kids are ready for all day programs in K but that is what is being required of them. I just think the kids should be treated more like kids and not tested all of the time. Tests don't always tell you anything. That's my soapbox. Our kids are no longer allowed to be kids especially as they get in the upper levels. My children at the fourth and fifth grade level are only allowed to whisper in the cafeteria and not talk at all in the bus line. I bet teachers wouldn't like it if they couldn't talk. Anyway sorry got off subject. There is nothing wrong with teaching the ones who are ready to write and read, but the ones who aren't need to go at their own pace and not be considered something wrong with them.
     
  19. lw3teach

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    I have been reading this and I agree that the level has been set high for these little ones. I am of the thought that you MUST take a child where they are at and do your best with them. If they are not ready, all the instruction in the world will not make them so. Such is life. So, if they leave my kindergarten class at a reading level 3 and not a 4 as our district would like, and I have helped that child the best way I know how, I just pray to God that the first grade teacher will take the child where they are at and work with them from there. It makes no sense to force a kid to do something they are not ready for. That just promotes frustration, and disengagement.
    Do I feel reading and writing is appropriate in K. Definately!
     
  20. puff5655

    puff5655 Cohort

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    It is innapropriate. Some kids might be ready for it, but other kids just aren't. The reality is that childhood is almost being stolen. When kindergarten was invented, it was play based. Kids are still hands on, concrete learners at 5 and 6, they should be learning through play and real life experiences. The Hollistic approach says we should be teaching the whole child- intellectual, social, emotional, physical. There is too much emphasis these days on the intellectual part. Kids dont learn the social skills they need anymore, or get the emotional support.

    And then there are the rules in place now where you aren't supposed to even give your students hugs or let them sit on your laps. Kids aren't even supposed to hug each OTHER in some schools!

    Our school boards are made up of politicians and lawyers, who dont have a clue about kids or early childhood education. In their minds, concerning reading and writing, earlier is better. They also have no idea how much children could learn simply through a rich environment. Despite the fact that research such as the high/scope perry study prove play-based is better, we are still going the opposite direction.

    Consult these books for more: (if you dont want to buy them, you could ask your local library if they could order them- they are all very good)

    The Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and "Tougher Standards" by Alfie Kohn

    The Happy Child: Changing the Heart of Education by Steven Harrison

    The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn

    Reclaiming Childhood: Letting Children Be Children in Our Achievement-Oriented Society by William Crain

    Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn--and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less by Roberta Michnick Golinkoff
     
  21. EBKLYN

    EBKLYN Companion

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    Good Morning,
    I agree with you Lw3teach that you must take a child where they are and do best.

    But that is my problem and some parents problem that they worry about whether the next teacher will continue where you the present teacher left off.

    Why should I or a parent have to pray for that? Don't get me wrong I am not disagreeing with you, but we are educators and it is a shame to me.
     
  22. EBKLYN

    EBKLYN Companion

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    Good Morning Puff5655,

    I agree with you when you say that kindergarteners need play. But in my mind I think the play need in some way or other to be structured. Children need to be directed in their play or else it become aimlessly done. And they learn nothing besides how to be social. And I wonder about that social component becaused even that has to be taught.
     
  23. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    Yes, K should be about socialization, but it's not like we want to have the kids writing all day long. Of course the children will have plenty of time to play and socialize, but they will also be read to, doing activities with letters and sounds,etc which are all part of reading.... and for a K to write one sentence sometimes is a big accomplishment.

    Naturally, if a child is ready they are ready... but for a child who is not ready to read that's fine too.


    The point is to expose the children, not force them and I think that's a huge difference.
     
  24. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    Actually, it seems like you are not against exposure just forcing the child to do something he or she is not ready for and that's certainly very valid.
     
  25. tcollom

    tcollom Rookie

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    You don't have to lose social just because you're reading

    In our kindergarten, we have set it up so that the students get 4 section activities throughout their day. They get a specials time...(computer, library, music, teacher's choice or p.e.) and then every day they get small reading groups, a time for play and socialization and then a time doing regular classroom activities which include math, calendar, stories, etc. The students are grouped and then rotate through these activities each day.

    Just because you teach reading doesn't mean you can't reorganize to work the other areas in. Think outside the box of a regular K classroom, be willing to reorganize.
     
  26. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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  27. TeacherGroupie

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    Thinking outside the box, yesss! That may be the single most valuable thing education does for a person...
     
  28. Ladybug

    Ladybug New Member

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    I do believe that some children are not ready to read and write in kindergarten. BUT there are so many that are. Social skills are important, but if a child is ready for something why would you hold him or her back?

    My opinion may be that it is not "developmentally appropriate". BUT as long as it is required, I am required to teach it.
     
  29. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    I think you should be teaching them to read and write!
     
  30. TeacherShelly

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    I think you should be exposing them to reading and writing.
     
  31. EBKLYN

    EBKLYN Companion

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    Hi Changeofcareer,

    The teachers in the 3rd - 5th grades classes are saying that their instructions are mostly test driven. There is no room for teaching during the day.

    I guess there seems to be a trend whereby the teachers in the lower grades are being held responsible for teaching the necessary skills that the students need by the time they get to the upper grades.
     
  32. TeacherGroupie

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    "Their instructions are mostly test driven"? Ick.
     
  33. TeacherShelly

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    Hi Ebklyn,

    Sheesh, that is so confounding. Is it "test driven" so that in 3rd, students learn skills that are foundational to what they'll learn in 5th? That makes sense, of course (who could argue?), but I don't think that's the true reason for being "test driven." I really am starting to believe the NCLB administration hates public education and will do whatever it takes to privatize or commercialize education. Deskilling teachers and then holding them accountable is a great way to help public schools fail.
     
  34. TeacherGroupie

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    Privatization may well be an issue, but it's also partly knee-jerk reactions - there's this widespread belief that the most reliable way to raise test scores is to teach to the test, and so interventions seem to be designed to do precisely that. Well, it's perfectly possible to get a one-year spike in test scores by teaching kids how to bubble and exactly what to look for - but that doesn't translate into the acquisition of either skills or interest, and what happens when the test format changes?

    This makes me very grumpy, I'm afraid.
     
  35. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    THe president of our school sometimes jokes that there are two types of parents: those who believe their child is "gifted" and therefore deserves special treatment, and those who belive their child is "special needs" and therefore deserves special treatment. It seems that very little are willing to believe that their child is (gasp) average.
     
  36. TeacherGroupie

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    Yup.
     
  37. TeacherShelly

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    The premise behind wanting to raise the test scores is that the tests measure acquired skills (never mind interest!). My first disagreement is with any norm-referenced test - it measures how one student has done on the test compared to the others. And this information is supposed to drive curriculum change? Not really, it just sets up a reward/punishment system. Second, the standards themselves imply that children in a grade should all master the same skills at the same time. No exceptions - except for failing to meet the standard, of course. Then there are the issues TG stated above.

    If the Real Reason for having standardized testing was to make sure no child was left behind, the tests would compare a student's past work to present on an year-after-year basis. There would be targets for grade levels, and the student's performance would be assessed multiple ways and would include room for individual development.

    What makes me grumpy is the pretense that these tests are for students' good and any teacher who disagrees is just trying to hide his own incompetence. Rubbish!
     
  38. TeacherGroupie

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    The tests are definitely being misused: it's like using one of those forehead strips to determine which of several antibiotics to prescribe. Norm-driven tests can, I think, show quickly and roughly if some schools are doing significantly badly - and if they are, we need to know that and then we need to look more closely to figure out why, before imposing ham-handed reforms.

    At the same time, it's important not to make testing The Enemy. In the first place, to do so is doomed to defeat - testing is not going away any time soon. In the second place, attitudes toward testing can lead to differences in test performance, so that, between those who "game" the system and those whose brains fry at the sight of a Scantron form, the results suffer in validity.
     
  39. moonbeamsinajar

    moonbeamsinajar Habitué

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    Okay, vannapk, you have me intrigued again. What songs do you use for sight words? When my students are doing journals, many get stuck on the words that can't be sounded out. I am reluctant to teach sight words, but maybe using a song would be okay.
     
  40. TeacherShelly

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    If a low API score sent a team of master teachers and a budget increase to the underperforming school, I would be less grumpy. However, a low API score sends affluent parents to other schools and a bunch of federal sanctions. That just does not make any sense.
     
  41. TeacherGroupie

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    I agree with you there for sure, changeofcareer. There may be broad similarities in most of the approaches that work for most of the problems in most of the schools, but that doesn't mean all aspects of the approaches are appropriate for all schools. Unfortunately, there's too much emphasis on one-size-fits-all quick fixes, preferably on the cheap and imposed from on high.

    Worst, I think, is that most of the solutions proposed seem to seek to automatize the classroom rather than to empower the people involved to go through the difficult and often very frustrating process of seeking solutions that will last.
     

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