Q:

Is it possible to overdo teaching young children to read? Can parents or caregivers push preschoolers too hard before they enter kindergarten? - Mom

A:

Preschoolers can definitely receive too much pressure to learn to read. It is important to remember that young children have built-in time clocks that determine their readiness for reading and other activities. Just as it is impossible to say when a child should start walking, it is the same story with reading. Certainly, some young children will be ready to begin reading at age 3, while others will not be ready until they are 6 or even 7 years old.

Sometimes parents are too eager to turn their young children into readers. They fail to realize that it is more important to concentrate on preparing their children to read rather than actually teaching them to read. This is what kindergarten teachers want. If parents spend too much time teaching phonics and using worksheets, their young children might reject learning to read simply because they are not ready for such formal reading activities.

Parents need to heed the message that the best way to prepare their young children to read is by reading to them. This will help the children acquire good listening skills, an understanding between spoken and written words, and a basic knowledge of the way books are read - from right to left and from top to bottom - as well as an eagerness for learning to read. Other things that parents can do before children enter kindergarten that will really prepare them to learn how to read include:

1. Introducing them to the alphabet

2. Playing word games together

3. Talking about what you read to them

4. Visiting the library regularly

5. Teaching them to recognize a few words

6. Helping them to hear the differences in letter sounds

7. Introducing them to rhyming words