Stop Teaching Your Toddler to Read!

April Peveteaux

teach toddler to readNow for some counter-intuitive advice from Maryland kindergarten teachers, as teaching your toddler to read is apparently annoying them. Also, they think you're a type-A jerk. But I paraphrase. According to Lynda Potter, a head of a primary school in suburban Maryland, teaching our kids to read means we aren't teaching them things like how to hang up their coat. And that's a problem.

I'll admit it. I spend more time reading to my kids than discussing the value of hanging up their coats. Call me crazy, but it seems a little bit more important. Also, our coat hooks are way too high for them to reach.

But according to Potter, I'm just a successful person who wants my kids to be "stars" so I can put another notch on my belt.

Forget the fact that everyone in my family loves to read. We have a ton of English majors on each side of the family, and everyone we have Thanksgiving dinner with loves to chat about the lit. We have bookshelves instead of art all over the walls. And my kids both take books to bed with them every single night and have since they were babies. They kind of want to learn how to read. So I'm teaching them. Sue me.

Another Maryland educator takes a bit of a different view, but still wants us to understand that we're not doing our kids any favors by teaching them to love literature.

Patricia Appel, a learning specialist at Glenelg's primary school, said that many times, if pre-kindergarten children learn a word, it's simply a picture they’re internalizing.

"Then, as they enter school, it's almost re-learning," she said. "We still have to back them up and teach them phonics and syntax."

She added that with early readers, teachers try to even out the other skills the children need to be successful in the classroom.

"This year we have two pre-kindergarten boys who can't hold a pencil and write but read at a first-grade level," she said. "We try to boost up the areas that are weaker to make a child more balanced."

I know when my daughter has memorized versus is sounding out the word. Quite frankly, she wants to be able to pick up a book on her own and not always depend on mom and dad, so I don't care how she goes about "reading." It's about enjoyment in our house, not whether she can win a reading contest but fail at the pencil-holding and coat-hanging portion of the challenge.

By acting like reading is just another skill set, these educators take the pleasure out of the act. Snuggling up with a good book is a joy, not unlike going for a swim in the ocean or taking a bite of chocolate cake. Perhaps if they looked at it from a child's point of view, it might not be seen as such a threat.

Are you teaching your toddler how to read?


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