Pre-school age children do not need tutors to get them ready to enter Kindergarten.

A recent article flagged a growing trend to push expensive tutoring programs aimed at the preschool set. I suggest parents relax and avoid anxiety producing pre-school tutoring programs and their promises of making sure children are ready for school. Reading to children and talking with them about the story are the early literacy skills they need to enter school ready to be successful learners, prepared to learn to read. Many of the skills children need to learn to read are first learned in conversation. Vocabulary is the lynchpin to literacy.

“Fast-Tracking to Kindergarten” rightly pointed out that “Research suggest that there is little benefit from preschool tutoring; young children learn just as much about math, if not more, fitting mixing bowls together on the kitchen floor.”

Competition in education has trickled down to the pre-school population and parents find themselves caught in the commercial push of products aimed at the early childhood population. I applaud Alison Gopnik, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, who said “tutoring programs…at best, they are useless.”

The seminal 1985 Commission on Reading’s report, Becoming a Nation of Readers, concluded “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” But being read to does not automatically lead to literacy. The real link seems to lie in the verbal interaction that occurs between adult and child during story reading. Talking with children had an even stronger effect on literacy learning than reading aloud to them.


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