Phonemic Awareness and Reading - is it appropriate expectation for Kindergarten? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums
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#31 of 60 Old 02-08-2008, 06:58 PM
 
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Well, I'm in NY state, which still has a December cutoff (though districts can make it earlier). And our district both has a Dec 5th cutoff AND very low rates of holding back young kids.

The expectations listed in the sheet that came along with DS's first "report cards" (whcih was not grades, but a list of skills and how he was doing) indicated that the milestones that all children were expected to reach in K were things like "Know all the letters and the sounds they make," and "Be aware that print carries meaning" and "Know that words are read left to right."

Now, because we're a university town, a lot of kids were beyond that level when they entered K. But I don't think the year ended with everyone reading, or even the majority reading anything mroe than their memorized sight words. Half the class in first grade was still working on little books with simple sight words halfway through the year.

And I am so, so grateful that DS got a teacher for K who had been teaching for 32 years and teaching K for 25. She was so laid back about stuff, and so not buying into the NCLB fearmongering. The newer teachers, especially the ones who don't have kids of their own or a lot of experience around small children, seem to have very developmentally inappropriate ideas about what K kids should be expected to do. Like they got them from reading politicians comments or something

savithny, 42 year old moderate mom to DS Primo (age 12) and DD Secunda (age 9).

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#32 of 60 Old 02-08-2008, 10:50 PM
 
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I think that comes more from not getting any literature at home. I really appreciate the teachers who spend lots of time reading aloud to the kids, as well as teaching them to read. My son's first grade teacher did a lot of reading to the kids. You probably do the same.
Oh, I LOVE reading aloud to the kids! I used to teach library, so that is kind of my forte anyway. But it is definitely true that literature at home makes the difference, barring any special needs. It's amazing to think that something that simple can make that much of a difference but it's true.
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#33 of 60 Old 02-08-2008, 10:59 PM
 
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Sorry - but you might think its a "big deal" - if your child was one of the kids not ready to read in kindergarten and being sent to "learning lab" every day where you hope against hope that he hasn't figured out that is for kids who aren't doing as well as anyone else
For kindergarteners the learning lab is supercool. The other kids often get jealous they don't get to go somewhere unique and special. They don't have a lot of the hang ups grown ups do.

The learning lab is not for "stupid" kids, and supersmart ones can need help just like anyone else. We have a few very, very intelligent ESL kids who go there to catch up. It's really just troubleshooting. And hey, it's better than an undifferentiated classroom that expects kids to sink or swim, individual needs be damned.

That said, I don't see why we have a state of panic when kids can't name the setting of a story in the reading assessments.
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#34 of 60 Old 02-09-2008, 03:36 AM
 
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I find this thread to be very interesting. I live in CA and have a kinder that is really struggling with reading and site words. Report cards are due next week, so I have a meeting on Wed. This will be my second meeting with her teacher. My DD is just one of those that just isn't ready. At my last meeting, her teacher also agreeded. I know she is in the lower half of her class, but I think she is doing great so far. She knows all letter's and their sounds. She know 1/4-1/2 of the site words out of 50. She is also slightly struggling with her numbers 11, 12, and 20's. I think when the light bulb finally goes on for her, she we will be wonderful at school. Maybe that is this year, maybe next. I'm not going to let the school system lable her already, she is only in K.
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#35 of 60 Old 02-09-2008, 03:59 AM
 
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My point was not so much is it possible to teach them to read - yes, as you pointed out it clearly is. My question was really should we be doing it? At least in the "no child left behind way" meaning every kid must pass a certain level by the end of kinder . . . .

if it wasn't important for me to read in kindergarten - why is it now so important that the kindergartners of today read at this stage? And is it so important that we are willing to push the development on those that may not be ready, and moreso - are willing to risk the stigma of labeling them "problem readers" - which I can only believe on some level is what happens when DS gets released to go to "learning lab" . . . . .which by the way happens 5 minutes after the "smart" kids get released to do "advanced reading" . . . .

Maybe it is that you really believe because children are capable of reading in kindergarten, that means it is appropriate? So I don't mean to put words in your mouth . . . but felt some clarification on my part was warranted here. .
Should we? I think we can, but I am anti-NCLB - so no, not in a way that pulls time away from art, music, PE, recess. I think there is room for the three Rs and the arts too.

I think it is different today - for our kids - because K is what we had in 1st grade. Most people in their late 30s and older didn't have preschool, but now 95% of the kids in my area go - most for two years - before starting K. They get that "learning through play" in preschool, and move onto a bit more academic in K - where we had our "learn through play" year in K and moved onto more academics in 1st grade. That is the difference. And NCLB just makes that more pronounced because the teachers and administrators are worried. I'd love to see NCLB (which at root isn't a terrible idea, just really poorly done) completely redone - to be helpful instead of the opposite.

And yes, if they are capable of learning to read in K, I think it is appropriate to teach them. Why wouldn't we?

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Sorry - but you might think its a "big deal" - if your child was one of the kids not ready to read in kindergarten and being sent to "learning lab" every day where you hope against hope that he hasn't figured out that is for kids who aren't doing as well as anyone else . . . . but since you know he is a super-smart kid . . .he probably HAS figured that out . . . but now, because he IS smart and just not interested in reading yet . . . he may not only be developing an internal sense of failure but may also be starting to consider himself "not smart".
I can hear that you are really upset about this, and I'm sorry that reading timing is causing stress. It might help you to know that I (my parents' perfect firstborn child ) was sent to Speech Therapy - in a room next to the principal's office and nurse's couch - in both 1st and 3rd grades. I went two or three times per week for the last 30 minutes of the school day. I would assume my parents were horrified to learn that I was lacking in some expected skill for my age group. But I loved it! One on one time with a very nice teacher who made everything so fun that I grew up to get a degree in Speech Pathology! I was never teased; other kids were jealous that I got to go play cool games while they were cleaning up. And I graduated third in my class. It really just wasn't a big deal or negative in any way to me; I am really glad that my parents didn't let on if they were upset. And I often joke that my speech therapist did a bang up job - I'm quite the chatterbox (really always was, even before her).

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For kindergarteners the learning lab is supercool. The other kids often get jealous they don't get to go somewhere unique and special. They don't have a lot of the hang ups grown ups do.

The learning lab is not for "stupid" kids, and supersmart ones can need help just like anyone else. We have a few very, very intelligent ESL kids who go there to catch up. It's really just troubleshooting. And hey, it's better than an undifferentiated classroom that expects kids to sink or swim, individual needs be damned.
Exactly. I'd try to let go of what adults may consider "stigma" and look on the bright side that my child is getting individualized help.

I hope it turns out in a way that works for your family.
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#36 of 60 Old 02-09-2008, 01:21 PM
 
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For kindergarteners the learning lab is supercool. The other kids often get jealous they don't get to go somewhere unique and special. They don't have a lot of the hang ups grown ups do.

The learning lab is not for "stupid" kids, and supersmart ones can need help just like anyone else. We have a few very, very intelligent ESL kids who go there to catch up. It's really just troubleshooting. And hey, it's better than an undifferentiated classroom that expects kids to sink or swim, individual needs be damned.

That said, I don't see why we have a state of panic when kids can't name the setting of a story in the reading assessments.
That's true. I was wondering how the OP's son feels about the learning lab. When I taught 1st grade the "average" kids were so jealous of the kids who got to go to the reading specialist. She was a nice lady that all the kids liked and she had a treasure box. The kids who had to stay with me just could stand it! We had some kids leave for reading to go to the speicialist while others went to the 2nd grade class and others went to ELD. Some kids left later for speech and others for resource and others for (forgot the name-- worked with their fine motor skills).

Now that I teach 8th grade, the kids in resource don't seem to feel bad about being in a special class one period a day. In fact, when it is time to take a test, they jump out of their seat and say, "I get to take the test in resource!" and race out the door. One time I had a class where 1/3 of the kids were resource and when they got up to take their test in resource, another kid said, "Oh, sure, all the smart kids get to take their test somewhere else!" and he was completely serious. It isn't always obvious to kids why other kids are being pulled out. Some of those resource kids where the brightest, best students. Some kids pulled out for ELD seemed to speak English perfectly well (but were still working on high level writing skills). So really the other kids 1.weren't sure and 2. didn't care but 3. wished they got to go somewhere, too.

I'd be sure to ask how you child exits the program. What criteria do they use and how often do they check.
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#37 of 60 Old 02-09-2008, 01:48 PM
 
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I think of those teachers as the "extra help" teachers, and yes they are wonderful at our school too. My son was always jealous of the kids who got to go for extra reading lessons with Mrs. K. My daughter loves her speech teacher. The one-on-one attention is great for the kids.
At our school, the kids either go in very small groups, or for individual lessons. The room and atmosphere seem quite relaxed, which is appropriate, considering the kids have to work very hard on whatever they are getting help with.
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#38 of 60 Old 02-09-2008, 11:54 PM
 
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There was a very interesting article about the value of starting academics early posted in the Learning at Home Forum.

http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=844918
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#39 of 60 Old 02-10-2008, 03:46 PM
 
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Thanks for the article, Cathy. I accidentally posted my comment in the learning at home thread about it, but will put it here, too, where I intended to do so in the first place .

***
That was an interesting article and I agreed for the most part, but did have one question. The article stated that:

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It followed research showing that the disadvantage of being the youngest in a year group persisted right through primary and secondary school.
However, it did not expand on this statement and it runs contrary to everything I've read in the past about being the youngest in grade. The research I've read (from the NAEYC among others) states that being the youngest is a disadvantage for the first few years but that, by 3rd grade, it was ability and not age that matters in terms of achievement outcomes.

I realize that this is a totally different topic, but does anyone know what research they are referring to in that article?
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#40 of 60 Old 02-11-2008, 05:54 AM
 
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However, it did not expand on this statement and it runs contrary to everything I've read in the past about being the youngest in grade. The research I've read (from the NAEYC among others) states that being the youngest is a disadvantage for the first few years but that, by 3rd grade, it was ability and not age that matters in terms of achievement outcomes.
I realize that this is a totally different topic, but does anyone know what research they are referring to in that article?
In addition, WTH are those of us with kids on the "disadvantaged" side of the calendar supposed to do? My DS has a June birthday with a September 1 cutoff. The problem of "the youngest kid in class" is never going to be solved... there are always going to be kids 9 months to a year younger than the oldest kids in a given class no matter what. I think it's ludicruous that parents should feel pressured to hold their younger children back.
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#41 of 60 Old 02-11-2008, 09:51 AM
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In addition, WTH are those of us with kids on the "disadvantaged" side of the calendar supposed to do? My DS has a June birthday with a September 1 cutoff. The problem of "the youngest kid in class" is never going to be solved... there are always going to be kids 9 months to a year younger than the oldest kids in a given class no matter what. I think it's ludicruous that parents should feel pressured to hold their younger children back.
Well, I think there might be some merit to the idea that starting "academics" a bit later than we do now would be helpful to a lot of kids and not harmful to very many (if any). And that if we started later in general there would less desire/need to red-shirt because virtually everyone would be ready for them.

As things are now, I guess I don't think parents should feel pressured to hold kids back, but I also think they should feel like that's okay to do so if that's what would be best for their kid.

We are thinking about giving our DS an extra year. He's a late June kid. He's probably about average or a bit below for "academic" things. But he's emotionally/socially immature with anxiety and attention problems. If he were just on the young side, I probably wouldn't even think about it. But combined with who he is right now, it should be an option.

(And of course it is, but some public schools will just put the kid in 1st grade if you try to do an extra year of pre-K or do a private K with the intent of repeating K in public schools. And my kid is receiving special education through the public schools right now and I am told they fight very hard not to hold kids back inside their system.)
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#42 of 60 Old 02-12-2008, 05:43 AM
 
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While I agree with the generally expressed view that Kindergarten should be more creative and open-ended than it can be right now, I will say that phonemic awareness is just a fancy educational label for a skill-set that is totally appropriate for kindergarteners; rhymes, word sounds, and syllables that can be introduced through story-telling, nursery rhymes, and poems. The recognition that dyslexia is a disability of the sound/spelling relationship and that other learning disabilities can have a basis in auditory processing, has led teachers and other educators to focus on children who seem to have difficulty with the idea that words are made up of individual sounds. In the same way that early intervention for kids on the Autism Spectrum should help address any disabilities they may have while their brains are still at the maximum of plasticity, early intervention for auditory and reading disabilities has to start at the earliest opportunity, ie, Kindergarten.

Sitting still and filling out worksheets all day is not appropriate for K. Being able to identify that Tow and Truck can go together to make Towtruck is appropriate.
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#43 of 60 Old 02-12-2008, 12:36 PM
 
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I wonder if there is any perfect answer here? DC#1 went to waldorf, delayed reading, and then when reading instruction happened it was to have kids sit and look at books for 1/2 hour and "read" because "it would come to them" (they did have some basic phonics and whole lang. instruction). Did we have problems? You bet, and about a third of the class did as well. Reading Recovery has helped a bunch. DC #2 was a late birthday and did not look quite ready for kindy at pub. school, so we opted to wait a year. We read together a lot, and there is an amzing amount of phonemic awareness, and now we're moving to Bob books, etc. Reading up a storm and excited about it. So now, have we again erred by delaying DC #2 into kindy? Will he be bored, or is kindy really 1st. grade now, and he'll be right on target? It can all be so confusing!
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#44 of 60 Old 02-13-2008, 02:52 PM
 
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I will say that phonemic awareness is just a fancy educational label for a skill-set that is totally appropriate for kindergarteners; rhymes, word sounds, and syllables that can be introduced through story-telling, nursery rhymes, and poems.
I agree, but I do not think that is what is going on in most Kindergartens any longer. In our district, the benchmark for the end of Kindergarten is that children can independently read a "level C" book (In our district they use Guided Reading Levels -- An example of level C would be Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?) Now many kids can "read" Brown Bear... because they have memorized the repetitive text pattern and/or they know the story very well from repeated readings. However for assessment, they are expected to read a level C book "cold" (having never heard/seen the book before). Lots of Kindergarteners can do this by the end of the year (and they should be encouraged to do so); however many can't. And (at least in our district) that is not OK... they are labeled and considered "behind" in reading. What about the kids who do not have dyslexia or any kind of learning disability, but who are just not ready yet? There is a mentality that if some can do it, all should be able to do it. This really makes me angry.

BTW - some posters discussed pull out programs. I don't agree that kids always love going to them, or that there is no stigma attached to it. By the end of first grade, my son and the other kids in his class, definitely knew who the "good" and the "bad" readers were. (I volunteered in his class during reading time, and I also worked --paid job -- in the library, so I was there a lot... knew the kids quite well ... and I listened to them as they checked out their library books) The kids who were getting pulled out were labeled (by the other kids) as "bad" readers. IMO the teacher did nothing to stop this perception. When I was a teacher I really worked on explaining to the kids that we all have different strengths, we all learn differently etc. -- but I saw none of this last year.

I think this issue goes beyond Kindergarten. there is such an emphasis on meeting benchmarks (which include reading fluency, accuracy, and speed). My son was trying to read Magic Tree House books, they were a little bit beyond him, but he was proud of himself and making progress with my support. He was reprimanded by the reading teacher who told him "Now, now, those books won't make you fast and fluent" (Her exact words!) and she redirected him to books at his level. When she said this to him (I was standing right there), you could literally see him deflate - like someone had popped a balloon!

Edited to add... I want to clarify something. In the above example regarding what the reading teacher said to my son about Magic Tree House books, I don't think encouraging children to read books at their level is necessarily a bad thing. In fact it can really help them become independent readers. What I was so angry about was her essentially telling my son that the Magic Tree House books were beyond his capabilities. Why couldn't he read both... spend some time reading leveled books, and some working on the chapter books? That is what he really wanted to read, and I believe desire and motivation are at least as important as a specific correct level!
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#45 of 60 Old 02-13-2008, 03:45 PM
 
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They started getting in to reading more in January in my DD's kindergarten class. She brings a book home once per week and we are expected to help her read it. We do hooked on phonics at home with her anyway so it doesn't matter.

They also do centers in her class where they do fun things in class like play with sand, do art, play in a kitchen, puzzles, etc. They have specials in kindergarten each day as well like art, music, PE class, computer. Those classes are taken in other areas of the school. They don't do reading all day long, maybe a small portion of the day.

The math is what I have a problem with in Kindergarten. I don't think they should have to add yet. Maybe simple math like 1+1 but that's it.

My child is in private school if that makes a difference.

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#46 of 60 Old 02-13-2008, 04:09 PM
 
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They started getting in to reading more in January in my DD's kindergarten class. She brings a book home once per week and we are expected to help her read it. We do hooked on phonics at home with her anyway so it doesn't matter.

They also do centers in her class where they do fun things in class like play with sand, do art, play in a kitchen, puzzles, etc. They have specials in kindergarten each day as well like art, music, PE class, computer. Those classes are taken in other areas of the school. They don't do reading all day long, maybe a small portion of the day.

The math is what I have a problem with in Kindergarten. I don't think they should have to add yet. Maybe simple math like 1+1 but that's it.

My child is in private school if that makes a difference.
In our district centers such as sand, kitchen, blocks etc. have been totally removed. It is 100% academic. They do have some centers, but they are all academic in focus (math games, writing, books, etc.) I would have no problem with these centers if they also had art, blocks, sand, kitchen, etc. It is the same for friend's children in other local districts (Seattle surburbs)

Maybe private school does make a difference.
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#47 of 60 Old 02-13-2008, 04:31 PM
 
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subbing. been reading Alfie Kohn's book on schools...back later...

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#48 of 60 Old 02-13-2008, 05:23 PM
 
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I don't think it's a big deal. In the UK, grade one starts one year early, at age 5, and they are all learning to read then. The kids all seem to do it, no problem. In Montessori schools, which are based on "each child at his/her own rhythm", many children are reading at age 4, most are reading at age 5 and are reading chapter books by age 6.

If you ask me, if anything, delaying reading for all children until age 6 is a bad idea. Many children want to and are very ready to learn to read and engage in other more intellectual subjects and are tired of just being expected to play all day.

I think it would be far better to have a "window" of between ages 4 and 7 where children learn to read. Some may not learn until age 7 (which is perfectly ok) but many if not most will learn by age 5, solely because they are eager to learn to read, and without being pushed.
With all due respect, you might feel that it was a "big deal" if your child was one of the ones struggling with the pressure and higher expectations that have come into play as a result of NCLB. (I might not have seen a problem if my child was one of those early readers who has no trouble meeting the benchmarks.) My son went into first grade feeling confident and left feeling like a failure at reading, and he was only slightly below the benchmark. While I think this was partly due to his teacher and the tone of his classroom, I think it was also part of the learning climate that is a reality in today's classrooms. I think you are right on about the idea of a window for learning to read, but I don't think that is the reality -- at least in most American classrooms today.

BTW - While many children are ready to learn to read and delight in intellectual challenge, they also love and need play. I taught Kindergarten for several years, and even my most academically gifted children loved to play with sand, playdough, blocks, imaginative play things, etc. Also many academically advanced children need the social and emotional growth that comes from that kind of play.
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#49 of 60 Old 02-13-2008, 06:02 PM
 
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I think the problem with teaching children to 'read' so early is that in most cases they're being taught to decode words and not to understand them. To me reading involves understanding. If you ask a kindergarten child what a book they just read meant or to make connects with it, most can't do it. If you ask them to retell the story they just read, several can't even do that. Blindly reading words off a page is not really reading. The joy of reading is the story itself! Although I guess "This is a bear. This is a house. This is a truck." type pattern books aren't very deep anyway.

Sure you can teach children to decode words, but what's the point? I think in terms of reading kindergarten should focus on oral language, understanding and comprehension, and pre-reading skills. If children have that understanding in place, when they're ready to read they'll be ahead. Understanding needs to come first. If a child is ready to read earlier, great! But most children aren't ready that young. As someone already pointed out, several studies have shown that by the end of third grade children who were taught to read earlier had no advantage over their peers who didn't. What's the rush?

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#50 of 60 Old 02-14-2008, 12:04 AM
 
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I think the problem with teaching children to 'read' so early is that in most cases they're being taught to decode words and not to understand them. To me reading involves understanding. If you ask a kindergarten child what a book they just read meant or to make connects with it, most can't do it. If you ask them to retell the story they just read, several can't even do that. Blindly reading words off a page is not really reading. The joy of reading is the story itself! Although I guess "This is a bear. This is a house. This is a truck." type pattern books aren't very deep anyway.

Sure you can teach children to decode words, but what's the point? I think in terms of reading kindergarten should focus on oral language, understanding and comprehension, and pre-reading skills. If children have that understanding in place, when they're ready to read they'll be ahead. Understanding needs to come first. If a child is ready to read earlier, great! But most children aren't ready that young. As someone already pointed out, several studies have shown that by the end of third grade children who were taught to read earlier had no advantage over their peers who didn't. What's the rush?

I think the "rush" is the standards set forth by our states. They seem unrealistic at all grade levels. The teachers are held to the standards. We need to work to change those standards. Of course, then we're acused of wanting to "dumb down" education. I think it is a problem at all grade levels. In our state they say the high school exit exam is setting the bar too low since it "only" tests 8th grade English and 9th grade math. However, I think that if the general public could see the standards for 8th and 9th grade, they'd back off. Those standards are really high, much higher than they were for us when we were in school. What I did in high school is the expectation for middle school.

I'm not sure I agree that decoding outpaces understanding in kindergarten. I find that 4 and 5 year olds can listen to (simple) novels and understand the story which is far higher than their decoding level.

I agree that kindergarten should focus on pre-reading, oral language, and comprehension, though.

As others have stated, the term "phonemic awareness"-- prereading skills, rhyming, language play-- seems appropriate for kindergarten, but just because they are calling it that doesn't mean that is what is happening. To the OP, what kinds of activities are going on in the language lab?
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#51 of 60 Old 02-14-2008, 12:55 AM
 
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Wow, this seems to have hit some buttons!

I see people having problems on both sides -- kids not being challenged and coasting through school learning nothing and kids being expected to do things that they are not developmentally ready to do. The one concern I have with some of these posts is that a lot people seem to feel that we are expecting too much of our kids in terms of academics across the board -- all kids. I don't agree with that.

What I did, and do, agree with in terms of the OP is that schools seem to have a difficult time recognizing that children are individuals with individual time tables for development anymore. There seems to be a 'one size fits all' thing going. Every child should read in K; every child should do x, y, and z by __ grade. That isn't fair to the kids who aren't yet ready to do those things. It doesn't mean that they are slow or stupid. Sure, there may be something wrong or some disability. It is also quite possible that there is nothing wrong and the kid just needs more time or different expectations.

However, I've seen the opposite be the case as well. If we expect that every child will be learning phonics and how to read simple books in K, what happens to the child who already reads well? Often times, that child also gets a bad deal in the system of 'non-individuation.' He works independently with no one teaching him, relies on afterschool enrichment or serves as a teacher's helper. Or he quietly (or not so quietly) learns that he isn't worth paying attention to, his needs don't matter.

My point is that all of these kids deserve to be met where they're at and a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work well for almost anyone, but that doesn't mean that no child should be taught to read in K or sooner and that we are damaging all kids by attempting to do so.
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#52 of 60 Old 02-14-2008, 01:12 AM
 
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I'm not sure I agree that decoding outpaces understanding in kindergarten. I find that 4 and 5 year olds can listen to (simple) novels and understand the story which is far higher than their decoding level.
What I meant is a lack of understanding what they themselves are reading, not understanding as a whole. In my experience it seems that many kindergarten children read the words, but don't ingest what they're reading. They're so focused on the decoding part that the understanding part takes a backseat. When they're listening to someone else read it's a completely different story. Then they're understanding and making connections because they're able to actively listen.

I completely agree with you about the standards being unrealistic. They have definitely changed a lot from when we were in school. For example, here in Ontario fractions are now being taught in first grade when many children are still learning to grasp much more basic math concepts. We didn't begin to learn fractions until third grade. I don't mean to take the focus away from language though.

I too am interested in the activities happening in the language lab.

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#53 of 60 Old 02-18-2008, 03:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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To the OP, what kinds of activities are going on in the language lab?
I got to sit in recently. The LL teacher is strict and focused. She sees the 30 minutes in the LL as valuable time that can not be wasted. She is very wedded to the idea that these kids are "behind" and that if she doesn't catch them up it will be "exponentially more difficult" to fix later on. Its a 5 to 1 ratio with her. I say this only b/c of the posters who felt that often times kids love that kind of thing and the time with the teacher . . . I was hoping that would be the case, that it would be a warm and loving and fun person that the kids would really be excited to go with . . . but not the case really. DS does not seem to like LL - he is unfocused, falling off his chair and has to be redirected almost every couple of minutes.

As for what they are doing - the day I watched she was working with a site word "the". Lots of tactile tools. She gave each child a laminated card with the word "the" on it. She would instruct each child to put their index finger on either side of the word and say "the". Then she would hand out picture cards of animals and instruct the kids to put the index fingers on either side of "the" and read "the" and then on either side of the picture card and say the animals name. When DS was asked to do this - he replied in Spanish . Next step of this task was to insert a verb (no card - just make one up) after the animal picture card - and basically say a little sentence (DS again replied in Spanish??). The also worked with letter tiles for the word "the". She handed them a 4 or 5 page booklet with pictures of animals and under each picture the words "the dog" or "the cat". She gave them each a highlighter and instructed them to highlight all the words "the" in the booklet . . .DS didn't even do this . . . . and she didn't say anything to him?? That pretty much took up the 30 mintues . . . .

I know one day they do computers - so DS is psyched about that -- but otherwise, he doesn't seem too jazzed. If I ask if he likes it - he'll say "yes" - not in an enthusiastic endorsing kind of way . . . but more of a "I don't dislike it but its fine if thats what I'm suppose to do" kind of way . . .KWIM?

I am trying to make heads/tails of his behaviour the day I observed the class. Was that for my benefit? Is it more proof that he is having problems focusing? Or is he just truly bored and playing with the teacher? Not sure . . .

TripMom . . . . . loving mom : to DS (7) and BBG (4.5)
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#54 of 60 Old 02-18-2008, 04:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, this seems to have hit some buttons!

I see people having problems on both sides -- kids not being challenged and coasting through school learning nothing and kids being expected to do things that they are not developmentally ready to do. The one concern I have with some of these posts is that a lot people seem to feel that we are expecting too much of our kids in terms of academics across the board -- all kids. I don't agree with that.

What I did, and do, agree with in terms of the OP is that schools seem to have a difficult time recognizing that children are individuals with individual time tables for development anymore. There seems to be a 'one size fits all' thing going. Every child should read in K; every child should do x, y, and z by __ grade. That isn't fair to the kids who aren't yet ready to do those things. It doesn't mean that they are slow or stupid. Sure, there may be something wrong or some disability. It is also quite possible that there is nothing wrong and the kid just needs more time or different expectations.

However, I've seen the opposite be the case as well. If we expect that every child will be learning phonics and how to read simple books in K, what happens to the child who already reads well? Often times, that child also gets a bad deal in the system of 'non-individuation.' He works independently with no one teaching him, relies on afterschool enrichment or serves as a teacher's helper. Or he quietly (or not so quietly) learns that he isn't worth paying attention to, his needs don't matter.

My point is that all of these kids deserve to be met where they're at and a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work well for almost anyone, but that doesn't mean that no child should be taught to read in K or sooner and that we are damaging all kids by attempting to do so.
Well . .. .to be honest . . . I think the issue is actually that my DS is NOT being challenged. He is forced to "sit" and do countless worksheets all day long . .. and he is just bored and really has no interest in doing what is being asked of him. I'm not really seeing his lack of interest in reading as a problem at all . . . . I'm seeing it as a sign that he would really like to be more engaged in more interesting work. He spent 2 years at a truly wonderful Montessori program and so was very use to being able to chose his work - and to do what interests him. DS teacher (who by the way is wonderful and totally in synch with us on this issue) pulled me in to tell me how silly this whole thing is in light of how much other stuff DS knows . . . she gave the example that for "share" the day before the topic was something patriotic and DS talked all about the civil war and slavery (which he learned about b/c we spend a lot of time at the library after school. He likes to "research" topics he's interested in - and was really focused on Abe Lincoln for Presidents day - so we got a bunch of Abe Lincoln books . . .)

So . . . back to my original point I guess I see this as demonstrative of my concern over whether this is all that appropriate for a 5 year old . . . . my 5 year old shows a great interest in learning . . . just not reading . . .right now.

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#55 of 60 Old 02-18-2008, 10:57 AM
 
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I got to sit in recently. The LL teacher is strict and focused. She sees the 30 minutes in the LL as valuable time that can not be wasted. She is very wedded to the idea that these kids are "behind" and that if she doesn't catch them up it will be "exponentially more difficult" to fix later on. Its a 5 to 1 ratio with her. I say this only b/c of the posters who felt that often times kids love that kind of thing and the time with the teacher . . . I was hoping that would be the case, that it would be a warm and loving and fun person that the kids would really be excited to go with . . . but not the case really. DS does not seem to like LL - he is unfocused, falling off his chair and has to be redirected almost every couple of minutes.

As for what they are doing - the day I watched she was working with a site word "the". Lots of tactile tools. She gave each child a laminated card with the word "the" on it. She would instruct each child to put their index finger on either side of the word and say "the". Then she would hand out picture cards of animals and instruct the kids to put the index fingers on either side of "the" and read "the" and then on either side of the picture card and say the animals name. When DS was asked to do this - he replied in Spanish . Next step of this task was to insert a verb (no card - just make one up) after the animal picture card - and basically say a little sentence (DS again replied in Spanish??). The also worked with letter tiles for the word "the". She handed them a 4 or 5 page booklet with pictures of animals and under each picture the words "the dog" or "the cat". She gave them each a highlighter and instructed them to highlight all the words "the" in the booklet . . .DS didn't even do this . . . . and she didn't say anything to him?? That pretty much took up the 30 mintues . . . .

I know one day they do computers - so DS is psyched about that -- but otherwise, he doesn't seem too jazzed. If I ask if he likes it - he'll say "yes" - not in an enthusiastic endorsing kind of way . . . but more of a "I don't dislike it but its fine if thats what I'm suppose to do" kind of way . . .KWIM?

I am trying to make heads/tails of his behaviour the day I observed the class. Was that for my benefit? Is it more proof that he is having problems focusing? Or is he just truly bored and playing with the teacher? Not sure . . .


Is he bilingual? It seems natural to me that a bilingual child might be a little behind where they would like him to be in reading. He has two groups of phonemics running around in his head! He will learn it - it will just take a little more time. (and what a bleswsing to know Spanish!)

Kathy
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#56 of 60 Old 02-18-2008, 11:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Is he bilingual? It seems natural to me that a bilingual child might be a little behind where they would like him to be in reading. He has two groups of phonemics running around in his head! He will learn it - it will just take a little more time. (and what a bleswsing to know Spanish!)

Kathy
No. Since the triplets were born - a wonderful mexican lady has lived with us during the week. The triplets are bi-lingual -- but DS has totally rejected Spanish for the last 3 years . . . .so needless to say I was somewhat surprised . . . . . apparently he speaks more than he is willing to let on . . . .

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#57 of 60 Old 02-18-2008, 02:20 PM
 
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So, I posted earlier that I've been reading one of Alfie Kohn's books on schools, "The Schools our Children Deserve". It's really a good read. The first half is all about the things that are wrong with traditional schools and the second half is all about what a school our children deserve looks like.

My dd1 is having issues with having to sound out words although she does have some words she can read if she stops to think about it. Anyway Alfie has a lot to say about Whole Language reading vs soley phonics based instruction and it made a lot of sense to me. I think it will change the way I work with her at home. I will encourage her to make guesses about words based on context and her understanding of the story.

I think Alfie's book is well worth checking out from the library. I skipped the "what's wrong with our schools" and went straight to the "what's an effective school look like" section.

Definitely worth a read...

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#58 of 60 Old 02-18-2008, 03:19 PM
 
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I teach kinder in a public school. It is a very frustrating experience. I am not allowed to do anything developmentally appropriate with my students. The entire ½ day is spent reading, writing, or math. There is no house center, no blocks, no play dough, no crafts, and no recess. My entire focus is on the struggling students. The students in my class who have met the benchmarks get very little of my attention. Because at the end of the year the district cares only about the scores. That is the only thing we teach for. Those scores. My little boy is in kinder next year. I am dreading the thought of having him in this type of environment. It is not what is best for kids.

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#59 of 60 Old 02-19-2008, 05:27 PM
 
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I teach kinder in a public school. It is a very frustrating experience. I am not allowed to do anything developmentally appropriate with my students. The entire ½ day is spent reading, writing, or math. There is no house center, no blocks, no play dough, no crafts, and no recess. My entire focus is on the struggling students. The students in my class who have met the benchmarks get very little of my attention. Because at the end of the year the district cares only about the scores. That is the only thing we teach for. Those scores. My little boy is in kinder next year. I am dreading the thought of having him in this type of environment. It is not what is best for kids.
In my son's Montessori school a huge percentage of the kids have parents who are public school teachers. We know what school is like now, and a lot of us don't want our kids in that kind of environment. I don't care to ever know how my kid scores on these tests. I don't want a teacher fretting over it. I don't want her to feel like her job is on the line because of test scores. I just don't want that environment. I know that he will learn to read and write-- he's off to a great start-- and I do want to know that he is spending his days painting, listening to stories, playing outside, planting flowers, baking bread, washing chairs, etc.
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#60 of 60 Old 02-20-2008, 12:38 AM
 
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In my son's Montessori school a huge percentage of the kids have parents who are public school teachers. We know what school is like now, and a lot of us don't want our kids in that kind of environment.
I know that there are also quite a few former public school teachers who have decided to homeschool their kids. Kind of a sad commentary on the state of affairs in our schools, isn't it?
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