Monday, November 29, 2010

Little reason to push children to read at an early age

Research Finds No Advantage In Learning To Read From Age Five reports:

A University of Otago researcher has uncovered for the first time quantitative evidence that teaching children to read from age five is not likely to make that child any more successful at reading than a child who learns reading later, from age seven.

The ground-breaking Psychology PhD research, conducted by Dr Sebastian Suggate, has been placed on the University's "distinguished list" of doctoral theses for 2009. Dr Suggate has also been awarded a prestigious Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the Humboldt Association in Germany to the University of Wuerzburg in Bavaria to further his studies into childhood education.

Moore's wrote in Better Late Than Early that it is better for young children, especially boys, to wait on academics until they are eight to ten years old. Part of this has to do with brain development. While much of the body is basically formed at birth, like your fingers and toes, the brain keeps undergoing major changes until people are eighteen and twenty. In trying to force young children to read before their brains are ready, it is like trying to make them walk before they even have their legs.

(Hat tip: Valerie Bonham Moon mentioned this on Facebook.)


Luke said...

I'm so grateful that my parents had the opportunity and inclination to let me go at my own pace while learning to read. By the time I graduated high school, I was doing fine. But reading did not come early or easily to me.


Anonymous said...

As I now watch my almost 8-year-old son suddenly whiz through reading, which I haven't overly concentrated on before now, I have to agree that there is "little reason" to push them early. However, one advantage I can see, which is huge to me, is being able to give a child a book to read instead of putting them in front of the tv or giving them a video game to keep them busy or quiet. Also, another biggie ... it relieves the parents' fears that they won't be able to teach their child to read or that they won't find out until age 8 that a child has a learning disorder. I wouldn't be honest if I didn't admit that I am overwhelmingly relieved to have my last child reading. Big sigh. No more worries. Right?!?

Crimson Wife said...

I definitely feel that it's most productive to start reading instruction when the child shows readiness for and motivation to learn. Fortunately, in a homeschool situation, we have the flexibility to do reading instruction on the child's own individual timetable, whether that's at age 4-5 or at age 8-9 :-)

Henry Cate said...

Luke - I likewise was a late reader. I forget the exact details, but it was something like that in 5th grade I was reading at 2nd grade level. Then in 6th grade I got hooked. By 7th grade I was reading at a 12th grade level.

Anonymous - that is a great benefit. My four-year-old son often walks around the house pestering everyone to play with him.

Crimson Wife - you are right. Teaching our children when they are ready to learn is one of the major benefits of homeschooling.