Teaching reading in kindergarten is a mistake, argues an expatriate teacher in an Atlantic paean to the “joyful, illiterate kindergartners of Finland.
We’re not Finns, responds reading expert Timothy Shanahan. The “whistle a happy tune” approach won’t work here.
Most Finnish parents are well-educated and literate, he writes. More than one-third of children enter school already reading, according to a government study.
In addition, the Finnish language may be the easiest language to learn to read, writes Shanahan. “The relationship between spelling and pronunciation is highly consistent, making it especially easy and quick to learn to decode.”
The Atlantic story quotes Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a professor emeritus of early childhood education, who claims, “There isn’t any solid evidence that shows that children who are taught to read in kindergarten have any long-term benefit from it.” The quote comes from a Defending the Early Years video.
As chair of the National Early Literacy Panel, Shanahan looked at the research, he writes. “We found long-term benefits from early learning.”