Is teaching reading and writing inappropriate?

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

  1. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Feb 10, 2007

    Hear hear! I don't know what your day-job is, TG, but you are a unique and genuine teacher groupie. I wish I could sit and drink a cup of tea with you in real life. If you're at all political, I'd love to team up and get active in Sacramento with you.
     
  2. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Haven't been, but we could talk about this... Though I carry baggage, not the least of which is that I can see where teachers themselves have contributed to the problem. Which makes me a very uncomfortable teacher groupie indeed.
     
  3. puff5655

    puff5655 Cohort

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    Feb 11, 2007

    The research has shown that children really (on average) are not ready to begin learning to read and write until age 7 (This is from my educational psychology textbook) although this is completely ignored by those who make the laws and by the school boards..

    When a child is ready to read or write, he or she will let you know. For example, a child might be using inventive spelling and begin to start asking for help in spelling the "right" way, this is when the teacher should start giving this child what he/she wants.. more instruction in writing. Set up the environment correctly and literacy skills will blossom.

    Children learn MUCH MUCH more from play than just socialization. From anything sensory (shaving cream, sand and water, playdough) they are gaining fine motor control, problem solving skills, learning about conservation, etc... Playing with blocks might seem pointless, but they are learning about physics, the laws of gravity, force, and a whole lot of math. There is a reason children play.. they are hands on learners, and it's the single best way for them to learn about their world.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Feb 11, 2007

    True. Even if we can agree on exactly what (or who) that "average" student is.

    But one of the things I've learned over the years is that no two classes are the same. They have different abilities, different stress levels, different temperments.

    So while the standards might not demand you teach reading and writing to every K class, sometimes you'll probably get a class that IS ready. And that's the year you teach it. The next year, or the class in the next room, may not be ready until grade one.

    I think we have to assume that for any given topic, the standards may lag a bit behind the ability level of a particular group. They're trying to ascertain what ALL kids should know by that point. So they're including even those kids who are academically challenged. But at any given time, you may have a class that struggles a bit less than that elusive "average" student. So that's when you push them just a bit out of their comfort zone to learn a bit more.

    And, for the record: last year I helped write a unit for a math 5 textbook. I've never taught math 5, nor do I intend to. Whiile I happen to agree with the idea that kids need more play, not all textbooks are created equally.:rolleyes:
     
  5. lw3teach

    lw3teach Companion

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    Feb 11, 2007

    The problem is that some kindergarten kids are MORE than ready to read and write. You have to remember that developmentally, a 5 year old can be either 2 years ahead or below their actual age. So, in the end what a great injustice we would be doing to those kids who are ready. We would be holding them back which I find unconscionableas an educator.:confused:
    Play is extremely important at this age, as well as any other age for that matter. Sometimes I wonder why we just think younger kids need play. We all do.
    My classroom is set up to encourage ALL learning, there is a Sandbox, blocks, Legos, an art area, dramatic play, science, and yes... reading, writing, and math. This is all important, and to take away any of them would be hard.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2007
  6. EBKLYN

    EBKLYN Companion

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    Feb 11, 2007

    I think that it is a teacher's responsibility to expose and demonstrate to all early childhood children strategies and skills in reading and writing. Then it is our duty as educators to make informal and formal ongoing assessment as to determine who is ready or not.

    In my opinion children will not be ready unless we as adults don't show them the way.
     
  7. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Feb 11, 2007

    One of the things that I suspect play teaches is decontextualization - being able to apply a skill or a concept outside the context in which one first learned or used it. The kid who perceives that the C on the alphabet block is "the same thing" as the C in the Coors logo has decontextualized that symbol and has it available to use elsewhere - to recontextualize, if you will.

    For some kids, reading is play.

    The point that Alice makes above is, I think, crucial: that there is no one right way to teach every class, let alone every child.
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Feb 11, 2007

    OK, but how does that 7 year old know about the Coors logo??
     
  9. TeacherGroupie

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    Feb 11, 2007

    She was four years old, actually, and in those days there were only three TV networks, so everyone saw all the same ads. Including, yes, the beer ads.
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Feb 11, 2007

    How funny. We were talking about the 3 network thing on Friday afternoon at a birthday party.

    Coors didn't advertise (or sell their beer) this far east in those days.
     
  11. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 11, 2007

    There CAN be a cooperative aspect to some balanced literacy centers- students could partner up in a read the room or listening center. It's never inappropriate to teach kids to read and write- it just has to be handled in a developmentaly appropriate way. When PRE-school teachers have little ones color, use patterns, talk, look at books, listen to read alouds, draw, write their names- they are teaching reading and writing behaviors in an appropriate way. In K, balanced lit centers can be appropriate. NOT teaching reading and writing in some form at any grade is totally INappropriate.
     
  12. TeacherGroupie

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    Feb 11, 2007

    The Coors logo was on the side of a market, and the kid realized that not only did it stand for Coors, it actually said Coors, C-o-o-r-s. And that was when she really knew she Was A Reader.
     
  13. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    Feb 11, 2007

    The research has shown that children really (on average) are not ready to begin learning to read and write until age 7 (This is from my educational psychology textbook) although this is completely ignored by those who make the laws and by the school boards.."

    One of the issues, puff, is that those people on the school board have no educational training or experience. Our local school board is made up of business people, lawyers and politicians. Even if they have any ed. training at all, it's usually at the high school level, not the early childhood level...and to many, many people, more "learning" of an academic sort is all for the better.



    "Children learn MUCH MUCH more from play than just socialization. From anything sensory (shaving cream, sand and water, playdough) they are gaining fine motor control, problem solving skills, learning about conservation, etc... Playing with blocks might seem pointless, but they are learning about physics, the laws of gravity, force, and a whole lot of math. There is a reason children play.. they are hands on learners, and it's the single best way for them to learn about their world."

    Amen.
    Kim
     
  14. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Feb 11, 2007

    Very well said. Unfortunately, board members and politicians will never understand this.

     
  15. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Feb 11, 2007

    There are a couple of obvious counters to these arguments - not necessarily accurate, but obvious:

    First, all sorts of interventions now being touted as "research-based" that call for literacy skills in the very early years. If primary-grade teachers really believe that something's amiss, then it is as much up to those teachers as it is to anyone else to make that point. Which requires that primary teachers learn statistics and experimental methodology and psychology, not to mention argumentation, rhetoric, and even marketing, to a depth that will equip them to make the point in terms that will convince, not other teachers, but the school board members and the public at large.

    Second: if there's no one on the school boards with expertise in primary education, why? Or, more productively, what do you - individually or as a professional community - intend to do about it?
     
  16. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    Feb 12, 2007

    "Second: if there's no one on the school boards with expertise in primary education, why? Or, more productively, what do you - individually or as a professional community - intend to do about it?[/QUOTE]"

    TG - School boards are appointed by the governor in my state. So, educators really feel as if our hands are tied. New appointments generally go to up and coming politicians from the same political party, or to retired staff members. However, there is a strong movement right now for an elected school board, and many teachers are behind that and are lobbying for that. I've attended dozens of meetings and rallies and written letter after letter...it's up in our general assembly this season. We'll have to see what happens.
    Kim
     
  17. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Where I live, boards are elected - and in at least one case, the results have been nothing short of disastrous: expertise tends to be less persuasive in getting people elected than is money, I'm afraid. But it's good that you're involved.

    In a case of an appointed board, it would make sense to present the primary education perspective to that board, politely but persistently, on the principle of the squeaky wheel.
     
  18. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 12, 2007

    AND they are ready at age 7 because they have some background experience with literacy!! There is WELL documented research about the value of children being read to, learning book handling skills, understanding concepts of print etc etc- this can be taught in developmentally appropriate ways in early childhood education classes. NOT teaching DECODING and ENCODING per se, but exposing them, immersing them in literacy experiences that are geared toward their learning levels so WHEN they ARE ready to read, they CAN!! (and the play centers can also support this- pen and paper in the housekeeping center, buried letters in the sand table, theme related books, environmental print, songs and stories to bring out phonemic awareness....) These practices are what TEACHING reading and writing look like at the earliest levels.
     
  19. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    "In a case of an appointed board, it would make sense to present the primary education perspective to that board, politely but persistently, on the principle of the squeaky wheel."[/QUOTE]

    If there were open-door meetings on a regular basis, that would be entirely possible. Actually, I think I'm using the wrong term...all meetings are open to the public...but the public is not allowed to speak. There are a few exceptiongs (redistricting hearings, etc,), but, by and large, we are "seen and not heard." How many teachers deal with that is through letter writing, phone calls, emails, etc. on a regular and persistent basis. I have done that in the past when there is something up for discussion that is of interest to me personally or professionally, but lately, I've been sort of burned out on it.

    I think the best school board would be required to have a rep. from different parts of the district (we're a huge district - over 100 schools), and reps. with current educational experience at various levels.
    Kim
     
  20. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Feb 12, 2007

    In Calif, the school boards are elected and the community is invited to get on the agenda, or speak in the "from the community" portion of the meetings. That must be frustrating to be a teacher with no voice at the school board!

    Regarding age of learning to read and write ... when I think of reading to children, having them handle books, find letters in the sand, etc, I call that pre-literacy learning. I think it is inappropriate to Expect kindergartener's to be able to read books. I think it is Appropriate to expose them to reading and writing and to know that each child develops at her own pace.
     
  21. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Feb 13, 2007

    So really, this is about the word "expect."

    Exposure is fine. But we can't expect a typical class to master the skill that early.

    Is that pretty much what everyone is saying?
     
  22. TeacherGroupie

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    Sounds good to me, if we can also add that it's important to expect - and be prepared for and welcoming of - the possibility that some kids will master it.
     
  23. lw3teach

    lw3teach Companion

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    That's exactly what I'm thinkin'...:)
     
  24. Commartsy

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    Feb 20, 2007

    Kindergarten Mama

    You know, reading this thread has made me feel really relieved! I am a middle school CA teacher, and I'm the mama of a 4th grade girl that flies through...and a little fella in kindergarten that I was really worried about until reading through this. The flip side of the "my kid is gifted" coin is that some parents are worried that are kids are behind when they can't read in kindergarten.

    My little guy tries hard enough, and we read with him, but he has quite a time compared to how his older sister did in kindergarten. When his teacher started doing reading homework for second semester by implementing "book in a bag" I started to see a tiny improvement...and I tell myself he is a five-year-old boy...but he still struggles.

    Kids are made to learn so much more, and so much earlier; it's really nice to read your concerns and realize that he's probably just where he should be.
     
  25. moonbeamsinajar

    moonbeamsinajar Habitué

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    You certainly are right about how much more kids have to learn, and at an earlier age! The changes I have seen in what is expected of preschoolers in Head Start over the past 10 years is amazing. Ten years ago, we did not ever do anything with letters, or writing names, or kidwriting, or math skills like seriation, patterning, etc. Now they are expected to do all of that. And when you consider what level most of the children start at, that is expecting alot ... of some of them. I am amazed though every year now, at what great progress that most of them have made. I just hope that this push down curriculum stops here, and we don't keep expecting more and more.
     
  26. 4monthcountdown

    4monthcountdown Comrade

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    I can't imagine how they are going to be prepared for 1st grade if they haven't at least begun reading and writing in Kindergarten. Doesn't your state have standards that require you to teach reading and writing in K?
     
  27. tchecse

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    I think reading and writing in K is fine, however, my observation of kindergartens in my area is that they are no different than 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. The only difference is the level of academics-there are very few centers, if any, in classrooms, the amount of seat work versus active learning is imbalenced, and they have practice testing days in order to learn the format of SOL testing. I think there are plenty of ways to teach many of these skills in a more fun manner-They are only 5 years old!! Writing, for example, can be incorporated into art, dramatic play (post office theme, writing shopping lists,etc), and sensory table time. The k teachers often say their kids are too immature for school, but I really think what they are too young for is the teaching approach that is being used.
     
  28. dcnuck

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    "The k teachers often say their kids are too immature for school, but I really think what they are too young for is the teaching approach that is being used." You hit the nail on the head with this statement. It really annoys me that the kids are no longer allowed to be kids. I teach pre K and i work on writing and phonics but I also don't push them when I know they are not ready. I feel sorry for the kids of this generation that are in K now---there is too much expected of them. K should be fun===not just academics and getiing ready for tests.
     
  29. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    I agree with what someone said - kindergartners should be exposed to all kinds of books, ABCs, some phonics, and given paper and pencil to see what they can do. But at the same time, I hate the idea of all these tests and pressures put on these little kids. What a quick way to kill their love of learning.

    They will learn when they are ready. Our job is to try to give them the tools they need, and when they are ready , it will happen! I am lucky to be at a school where I have been able to see my slow learners and my "gifted" learners together in 4th -5th-6th-7th grade, and no one stands out anymore. This "giftedness" will all even out in time, unless there is a learning disability or a true giftedness which spans more than just reading - being an early reader is not anywhere near the same thing as being gifted with a curious mind that craves to learn about everything and can do so pretty independently.
     

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