kindergarten mothers reading first grade

Reading by Kindergarten, Is It Too Much to Ask?

Posted on Posted in Blog, Raising Readers

Reading by Kindergarten, Is It Too Much to Ask?

Do you remember what it was like when it was time to remove the training wheels off of your little ones bike?  Our youngest came home a few weeks ago and after a lengthy discussion with the other kindergartner girls in her class she was motivated to get her dad to remove the training wheels from her bike. We (and really I mean the hubby) has been encouraging her to take the training wheels off since this past summer.  To which the youngest always protested.  Her six year old reluctance was a little confusing to him.  He has always proudly proclaimed that he had his training wheels off when he was three.  Our son, the middle child, has been riding on two wheels since he was at least five.  Our oldest on the other hand took a little longer. What can I say? The delay in removing her training wheels was due to growing up until the age of five with a single mama who had to work and go to school and little time to play outside.
We don’t believe that there is a set age for when children are ready and confident to balance themselves on two wobbly wheels.  I don’t want to push the kiddos to accomplish such a feat until they are completely ready.  If they still need me or their dad to run alongside with one hand gripping the back of their seat, then we are more than happy to do it.  But, we feel like every other parent in that we ‘know’ our children and thus know when to grip the back of the seat and when to encourage them to stop being scared and get to pedaling on their own.   
Sometimes I believe the kiddos have learned to ride their bikes solo in much the same way that they have learned to read.  The oldest was definitely reading by kindergarten, but not on her own confidently until she reached first grade.   Our middle child has been reading on his own since kindergarten and the youngest is following suit.
A recent report from Defending the Early Years and Alliance for Childhood argues that requiring kindergartners to read as part of the Common Core State Standards curriculum requirement may not be the most productive way to raise young readers. Why? Well…the report cites several reasons, mainly:
  • Many children are not developmentally ready to read in kindergarten.
  • No research documents long-term gains from learning to read in kindergarten.
By trade I am a middle school/high school social studies teacher and professor of cultural studies in education.  My experience with getting little ones to read is much more anecdotal than scientific.  What I can say is that my oldest was not held to the kindergarten reading standards of today and as a result I didn't push her to read on her own by the age of 5.  But, once common core came along I did push the two youngest to do so. Despite their different experiences none have yet to express a concern to me that I took off the reading training wheels too soon.
A recent report by Scholastic, in conjunction with YouGov perhaps sheds a little light on why we were fortunate to have kiddos who were willing and able to read by kindergarten.  For one, we did our best to do the things at home to encourage our three to become frequent readers, such as:
The kiddos see me enjoying a good book.
  • Reading aloud early and often.
  • Providing a large library at home.
  • Allowing the kiddos to choose books about characters or things they enjoy.
There is no one way to encourage children to become lovers of books, stories and words.  Just as there is no one way to get children comfortable with riding without a gripped hand steadying their bike seat. Children take off their training wheels, at any level, at different times.  As long as they eventually become ready and confident to take on two wobbly wheels, in whatever they do, I am fine.


Do you think reading by kindergarten is too much to ask?


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