Is reading at the age of 3 beneficial?
The question of whether reading at an early age is beneficial or not has raised several arguments in our current world. In the past two decades, the standards for academic success have risen to the point that there is a trend to push children to start reading early on. This rise in academic achievement together with parents' desire to see their children succeed academically has instilled much pressure to the parents. The expansile access to information through the World Wide Web has made the younger generations push their children to learn at very young ages. Other sources such as parenting books and increased expectations from the society have added to that pressure. Some researchers maintain that introducing children to education at a young age has proved to be beneficial. They are claiming it helps increase the childrens' intellect, thereby enabling them to perform better in schools. Yet, other veterans in the educational field argue that early introduction to reading has proven to be ineffective. Nonetheless, initiating reading at an early age is useful, as affirmed by several researchers. This research seeks to discuss whether reading early at the age of three impacts children's future academic success while considering several studies made of the same.
Psychology experts say reading early effects the students' grades in a positive way. Leahy & Fitzpatrick, research found that reading early on assists students to score better grades. The study was done by distributing surveys electronically to individuals who were of the age of eighteen or older. Most of the people questioned attributed their academic success to commencing reading at an early level (i.e., ages three and four). As reading is the base of learning, and is essential throughout a child's academic career, grasping the skill of reading serves to be more beneficial to a child. According to Leahy and Fitzpatrick, children who understand words and useful terminologies at a young age are more likely to do better in tests than children who dont. Also, the tendency of children to leave school at an early age is usually due to a lack of reading skills which diminishes their morale in education. As stated by Leahy and Fitzpatrick in their research, "children develop literacy skills and an awareness of language long before they can read. "As these skills are associated with a child's academic success; therefore, children who are not introduced to language early on are likely to fail academically. According to the research, children almost certainly grasp a lot at an early age (the first six years) (Leahy & Fitzpatrick).
Similarly, research from the Institute of Education shows that children who willingly learn to read at a younger age, and those who read for fun tend to do better in school than their counterparts. Leahy & Fitzpatrick uphold that for continued academic success in children, developing an interest in reading is essential apart from the knowledge of how to read alone. Reading is among the most intellectually challenging skills for a person to grasp. Therefore, It is necessary to teach children this skill early on in life when the mind is still fresh to prevent future struggles and to facilitate ease of understanding of language. Moreover, experts assert that we should teach children at a young age of three, four, or five the basics of reading like alphabetical letters and their sounds (Leahy & Fitzpatrick).
In the same way, Alvarez, in her article, quotes Eubanks words which say that kindergarten children have the capacity and intellectual ability to do more. They argue that learning at Kindergarten is not ineffective; the method employed in teaching these children to learn what could affect the child's development. In cooperating harsh teaching techniques is what diminishes children's performance and not their brainpower.
Correspondingly, reading at an early age also impacts brain development. The brain naturally develops at an early age as, during this period, the brain makes significant vital connections. Thus, by instilling children with reading skills early in life, they are more likely to faster develop intellectually than children learning later in life. Scientists have concluded that children sometimes experience stress which reduces their mental and physical performance. Through reading these stress can relieve children's emotions and anxieties. Additionally, according to Fry, Igielnik, and Patten, today's generation of adults have had consistent educational success than past generations due to early introduction to education and reading.
Despite this, some authors argue that reading at an early age can be counterproductive. These researchers believe that the dynamic nature of schools and educational institutions to push children into early reading of excessive materials while their minds are developing can lead to ADHD. Not all children can be successful in all subjects. Therefore, teaching them more than they can comprehend and using harsh involving methods is what leads to ineffectiveness among the children. Also, in line with Stephen Camarata, a professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, there is no scientific data to support those teaching children more complex concepts at an early age is useful. The professor argues that it is meaningless to teach children difficult things that will only encourage them to memorize instead of grasping the content (Strauss, p. npag).
As deemed by professor Camarata, the use of strict rules and methods on children early in life as a strategy to prepare them for future academic excellence is an insignificant approach to learning. The societal pressure currently witnessed pushing children to schools early in life has raised questions among researchers. They claim it is damaging to children, posing the risk of slow academic development (Strauss, p. npag). Moreover, according to Dr. Shlesha Datar, a researcher at the RAND Corporation, children who enter Kindergarten a year older than others had better test scores than those who began on time. These students had a sharp score trajectory than their equals in the first two years of their study. From this research, one can conclude that schools teach children too much too soon, which negatively affects the learning curve of the children.
Also, Samuels, in his article, asserts that Kindergartens have to balance between the increased academic pressures required on children and the need for children to have a place to socialize and have fun. Samuels uses the example of the Jefferson Elementary school in Boston to show how a balance between education and play is necessary for ensuring a child's success. Most kindergartens in the country are removing children play areas focusing more on education and group reading which poses to be disadvantageous to the children. Jefferson's Kindergarten, for instance, eliminated the more rigid curriculum and introduced manipulatives and played kitchens to help improve children's performance. The children thus learn more by actually doing things they enjoy. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of Psychology at the Temple University, says, teachers should not dump a lot of complicated concepts on children.
Similarly, parents should not rush children to schools when they are not ready because of fear of falling behind. Likewise, teachers who have high expectations of their students tend to push them more to learning. Instead, they ignore the child's choice of play and other skills such as art and music. As a result, children tend to be disadvantaged.
Furthermore, most experts argue that there is no need to pressure children into reading at the age of three. They argue that students have a long life ahead of them to learn all the necessary concepts they require to achieve academic excellence. These professionals encourage slow and significant educational progress. Furthermore, students who advance from preschool and Kindergarten onwards at a slower pace, have a stronger educational foundation. According to Carlsson et al., this approach can provide a basis for long-lasting educational success (Carlsson-Paige, McLaughlin, & Almon, 6). According to a handbook by Bank Street College of Education in New York for reading tutors, a lot of preschool and Kindergarten children are 'emergent readers.' These children, therefore, often pretend to read and write and only begin to associate spoken words with those written and only know minimal letter names and their related sound associations. They can only write letters which are mostly alphabets in their names and primarily using uppercase letters. These reveal a high disparity with the required kindergarten standards, which requires children to learn and know all letters (Carlsson-Paige, McLaughlin, & Almon, 6). Children in first and second grades, according to Carlsson-Paige, McLaughlin, and Almon, are the ones required to identify most of the alphabetical letters by name and be able to recognize the sounds of all the alphabetic letters. Therefore, schools are rushing students to learn many concepts prematurely instead of slowly initiating whatever they are supposed to learn.
Similarly, educating young children with programs that focus solely on the academic progress of the child is ineffective. Carlsson-Paige, McLaughlin, and Almon assert that there may be lasting benefits to the child by in cooperating play-based programs in early childhood education.
The Common Core Kindergarten standards require students to meet specific standards before proceeding to the first grade, which pressures children to long hours of drill and worksheets. Carlsson-Paige, McLaughlin, & Almon maintain that no evidence exists to back up these regulations which emphasize on mastering these standards in Kindergarten can bring significant gains. Focus on these standards only reduces time to consider other vital areas of learning which could be more important to young children such as creative play.
As stated by Carlsson-Paige, McLaughlin, & Almon, "we are setting unrealistic reading goals and frequently using inappropriate methods to accomplish them" by compelling children to read more than they can at kindergarten (7). Also, this pressure on children has negative impacts on the parents. Occasionally some parents who dont see their child progressing at the pace other children are, get frustrated. They think that their children are stupid, which could not be the case as they are being taught what they cannot grasp at that particular age. For instance, a parent whose 5-year-old son began the Common Core Kindergarten in California explained her frustrations after her child's teacher stated that the child was far behind. The teacher claimed that at the previous school, the child indulged in play rather than learning. The teacher warned of the child, possibly getting low grades making the parent think that her child is unintelligent, which was not the case.
Besides, excessive pressure on children on early learning leads to little gain and losing so much in the process (Carlsson-Paige, McLaughlin, & Almon, 6). Susan Sluyster is an experienced Kindergarten and preschool teacher form Cambridge. She has noticed that in kindergarten the focus has shifted from the children's emotional needs to concentrating on testing. There seems to be a need to assess children scores, which has increased the academic demands on children imposing unnecessary pressure on them (Carlsson-Paige, McLaughlin, & Almon, 7).
Nonetheless, learning to read early-on can benefit students if parents do it correctly while not causing adverse effects. This is effective if children begin to read at the appropriate age, which is when the child shows interest in the learning process. According to Alvarez, many educators in response to a Facebook post on NEA Today's Facebook page, on the appropriate reading age, said that a large number of kids in Kindergarten are not ready for the learning process. Most parents hurry to take their children to Kindergarten before they are prepared supposing that the children will learn simple stuff of sounds and recognizing letters which are not always the case (Alvarez, p. npag). They send children who are not ready to school only to find requirements that are a lot more engaging to the students than the children can handle. Additionally, as outlined by Leahy and Fitz, "Children must be developmentally and psychologically prepared and ready, otherwise learning to read maybe more of a challenge... if the child is uninterested."
In spite of this, some experts still insist that children in Kindergarten are capable of doing more; the challenge depends on the approach used by different kindergartens which serve to be appropriate to the development of the child. Parents should, therefore, consider taking their children to kindergartens that emphasize play in developing the child's mind while also engaging them in the reading process. Still, it is essential to consider that children vary and for some, the educational system imposed on them is more straightforward to grasp than others. Parents should, therefore, keep this in mind while categorizing and assessing their children's readiness to go to school. Also, to benefit the child, parents should even understand the languages and literacy experiences suitable for their children while looking for preschools and childcare settings.
Furthermore, educators' advice reading is an indication of literacy. Thus, to effectively initiate children to start reading and to then develop their eagerness in the learning process at an early age, parents are encouraged to consider reading to their children. "Reading to children is important for language and literacy growth if it is not overdone" (National Research Council, p. npag). In a similar manner, parents should also learn to communicate with their children by answering the questions effectively which their children ask them, and engaging their children through dialogue as a technique of setting the stage for their children to learning how to read.
Furthermore, experts in the field of psychology have managed to collect data by conducting surveys on kids in support of their advice. According to psychologists, young, developing minds are capable of uniting very distinct observations into logical systems. Teaching children to read at a young age is therefore useful according to research done by psychologists.
In conclusion, the most critical aspect of early childhood education is the readiness of the child and their eagerness to learn. The approach employed by teachers in different kindergartens and preschools is irrelevant if the children are not ready for the learning process. Even so, kindergartens and other early childhood development centers should consider in cooperating play in their curricula as playing is what young children need to develop their minds effectively. As earlier explained, parents should consider preparing their children for this learning process before the children's initiation to formal schooling by reading to them and encouraging them to read since reading is the focal point of academic success. Nonetheless, despite the importance of reading at an early age to a child, children should be relieved of the pressure for academic excellence earlier in life as this can be achieved later on when the children are intellectually ready. Thus, to benefit children at an early age both academically and psychologically, educators should focus more on the personal needs of their students (their individual capabilities and weaknesses).