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Preschool Reading

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I teach a preschool reading program. Many parents ask me, "Isn't that what kindergarten is for?" How do I respond to parents' accusations that I'm "over-preparing" their children for first grade?

A: I'm very disturbed about preschool programs that emphasize traditional academic learning that is more along the lines of kindergarten or first grade curricula. Indeed, many parents choose such academically-oriented preschools in the hopes that their kids will get a "leg up" on the kindergarten/first grade "competition."

Early childhood development experts maintain that preschools should be caring, stimulating, child-centered environments dedicated to the overall social and emotional growth of young children. Teaching reading to preschool kids isn't on their or my developmental priorities list, especially since all kids are hard-wired on an individualized basis to learn something as complex as reading.

Teachers and parents have created a demand for kindergartens to teach what first grades used to do and for preschools to become kindergartens. I deplore this shift. Read David Elkind's classic, The Hurried Child for an expanded, brilliant exploration of the unnatural "speeding up" of childhood.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


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