Sunday, November 18, 2007

Reading at the right age

This is one of the subjects at which everyone appears to be an expert* and listening to the debate over the Tories latest pronouncement that children should be able to the read by the age of six some of the armchair experts don't half talk drivel.

Well, I don't profess to being an expert but I am reasonably well informed. The Great Wiseone spent 25 years as a specialist reading teacher in this country and abroad in military schools. Furthermore we have good friends whose children went in to the German schooling system and, finally, we have brought up a son who eventually had a reading age higher than his chronological age, despite being a late starter and us telling his school not to worry.

So, after all the years of failed attempts to teach younger and younger children to read, how about a different approach and not bother until they are 7? This works very well in Germany and Hungary and I am sure other places. Up to that age concentrate on teaching them social and cognitive skills and take the pressure of the little darlings. How can we expect 3 and 4 year olds to sit still and learn at that age? They should be having fun anyway.

I suspect this would never happen as middle class parents seem to have this believe that teaching kids to read at some unnatural age when they aren't ready is somehow good for them.

*As an old friend was fond of saying: "x" is the unknown quantity and a "spurt" is a drip under pressure

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