When should students be taught to read?

Every student enters Kindergarten at a different ability level. 

By Shelby Moore


Shelby Moore is a kindergarten teacher at an inner-city school in Houston and was recently awarded as one of the East Region's Campus Teachers of the Year.

Every student enters kindergarten at a different ability level. Many times how advanced a child is depends on if the child attended a pre-k program or how much a parent has worked with that child at home before coming to school. Teachers are then confronted with the challenge of meeting the instructional needs of each one of their students.  

As a public school teacher, I am required to differentiate my instruction to make sure that each child is challenged at their particular ability level. In order to differentiate instruction, small group instruction is much more effective than whole group instruction. Within a small group setting I am able to group the students by ability level and meet their educational needs without boring the students that already know the information, or teaching something that is way above another student's cognitive level. 

On the other hand, I recently read an article by the New York Times called, Reading at Some Private Schools is Delayed, where some private schools share a different philosophy of what kindergarten is all about. These elite, private institutions with prestigious reputations set their own curriculums and see kindergarten as a social year and not an academic one. In addition, these schools choose not to teach reading until first grade or later.

If my experience in the classroom these past six years has taught me anything, it is if a child is bored, then more than likely behavioral problems will arise. Typically, if a student is already familiar with the material, the child will stop paying attention and choose to act out, or start disturbing other students in the class from learning.