The trend to teach reading in kindergarten is an unreasonable expectation for five year olds because they do not have the maturity of brain function needed for reading. Certain, specific visual-processing learning problems arise, as well as problems in attention and motivation.
What happens when children are taught to read before all the neurological pathways for the tasks are adequately developed? Now that U.S. educational practice is bowing to the pressure to improve by teaching reading in kindergarten, despite the fact that five year olds do not yet have the benefit of the left brain’s reading center crucial to the task, this is the critical question.
Teachers are noticing difficulties in learning, behavior and socialization. As kindergarten has taken on the task of reading, more kids are found who need to repeat kindergarten or a “transitional” first grade classroom. As kids progress through grade school, learning disabilities increase, particularly visual-processing types. Brain research can explain why teaching reading earlier would result in negative effects: most five year olds do not yet have the complete development of the neurological pathways needed to couple the deciphering tasks and the comprehension tasks of reading. (For further explanation of this research click on “Are Schools Expecting Our Kids to Read Too Early?”)
The language center in the left hemisphere of the brain won’t form for most kids until they are between seven and nine, and later for boys than girls. When kids are taught to read before this, certain problems arise, particularly in spelling and reading comprehension.
Because the right brain’s language center encounters printed words in terms of the composite image the letters form on the page, a child with this understanding does not see the middle letters very distinctly. A great deal of importance cannot be placed on deciphering letters that occur in the middle of words that begin and end the same. Because much of what we would consider a five year old’s act of reading is really a lot of guessing the middle anyway, “mean” and “moan” do not, to them, carry enough distinct difference that they can perceive. They share the same silhouette. To most five year olds, it’d be like seeing a drawing of a girl in a dress, and it makes no difference in the meaning of that picture if the girl’s dress is striped or plaid—she’s still a girl in a dress. When children are expected to spell correctly with the use of only the right side of the brain’s language center, they will experience great frustration, not understanding why anyone would care about something that, to their cognitive ability, is hardly discernable.
Published in: Family