Education Nation: When Should Children Start Learning To Read?

‘Helping Kids Read ‘Critical’ to Education’ – Education Nation 

October 4th in the US is now national reading day.

Read for the Record raises awareness by encouraging families to read together and prepare children for reading as young as possible, so that when they start school they have a head start. The scheme began after research showed that children entering grade 1 who were already behind in their reading, stayed behind in their education and this false start is responsible for achievement gaps within peer groups. Their message: reading gives a head start in life.

Personally, I’m all for getting kids to start reading as young as possible, but not in a formal academic environment. Exposing children to books by reading aloud to them and using talking books helps them develop a healthy relationship with reading.  But I wonder, should kindergarten age children be reading or socializing? Should the emphasis lie in academia or social skills? Some private pre-schools in New York, such as the Ethical Culture School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, steer their philosophy towards socializing children at pre-school age and leave reading for when they start first grade.

Reading is a social activity- a form of communication- and should form an essential part of any child’s social development. Reading also helps children learn to be with themselves and to enjoy the time they have with their own imaginations; also a part of learning to be social.

It’s worrying that in the year 2012- with all the advancements in science and technology society has made -that children are falling behind with basic skills and are starting school already struggling to keep up with their peers. So how can we change that? Events such as World Book Day and Read for the Record do great work in raising the ‘reputation’ of reading by giving young people access to book tokens, and providing free learning packs to schools -including kindergartens and nurseries.

I think we should celebrate and promote books and reading at every opportunity from early on and integrate it into learning as soon as possible, and I fully support ‘Read for the Record’. However, it’s a sign of the times that this basic skill is having to be backed by campaign efforts.  The situation should not be ‘critical’.

Question: When do you think is the right time for kids to start reading?

Visit: for their wonderful children’s books

Related Articles

Reading at Some Private Schools  is Delayed – New York Times 

Children Who Can Read But Don’t 

Children’s Reading ‘Pushed Out’ By Other Activities



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