Question: I need advice and info about learning. What should my daughter be learning right now at age four, and what is she capable of? Reading? Writing? Imaginative play? What brain developmental stage is she in. Should I be teaching her reading and writing at home?
I have always taken a very laidback approach to teaching my daughter academics prior to her brain being ready. But when will she be ready. In this cutthroat world in order for her to get into college and succeed do I need to start pushing things?
Answer: Great question. Research has shown that children under five need no formal academic instruction. In fact, children who come from loving homes where the parents often play and have frequent conversations have children who fair very well in kindergarten. The best indicator if a child will be a good reader and writer is if the parents have books available at home along with being read to. A home where a child who is exposed to books in many different rooms of their home, is more likely to read then the child who is taken to a library. Funny huh? However, this is what the research shows.
The only thing children under five years of age need to be academically prepared for is to be raised in a loving, supportive, book enriched, non-abusive/impoverished environment. A young child’s brain and muscle development is still processing at a primitive level, so if formal academics are introduced to early, then there is a possibility of creating a learning disability by forcing nature. Or worse yet, killing their spirit and making them lose their love of learning, which all children are born with. By the time a child turns five they begin to show interest and peaked confidence in using a pencil and paper. School enhances their predetermined skills and helps them to pick up reading and writing fairly quick.
I never taught my son how to hold a pencil or crayon. In fact, he hated pencils. After one week in kindergarten, he came home took out his pencil can and began to write letters. I was shocked and reaffirmed that we did the right thing by not pushing any formal instruction. ABC magnets on the frig, singing the ABCs, labeling animals and pictures in books, was all we really did with him.
Schools are created to teach children how to read and write. Teachers get their credential to teach children these skills. Parents are here to support and guide.
Children under five years of age should be playing outside, singing, building, creating, painting, experimenting with glue and strings, laughing, and getting real dirty.
By The Go-To Mom, Kimberley Clayton Blaine, MA, MFT