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Why Do You Want Your Five-Year Old to Read?

 So you want your five-year old to read? But why? Are my ears hearing this? Why?


In Finland no one is taught reading until they’re seven, yet Finland is rated number one or two in the world in educational excellence. Know where the U.S. stands on the list? Thirty-three, behind every country in Europe, Russia, Turkey, Mexico, and Brazil. In almost every category South Korea and Finland top the charts in world-wide Educational Score Performance:


Yet these are countries that DO NOT PUSH READING on the very young? Instead of forcing young kids to learn academic skills in pre-school and kindergarten, Finland and Korea are among the last countries that still use the original Kindergarten system invented in the 1830’s by Friedrich Froebel.


Kindergarten was designed for three to seven year-olds to teach children HOW TO LEARN! Through directed play, children would learn to observe, reason, express, and create. Remarkably important lessons that are assimilated in the fluid and open minds of the very young. Froebel, a naturalist before becoming a teacher, wanted, among many lessons, to show kids how nature designs - the patterns and symmetries in plants and crystals and seashells – to give each a sense of the growth of their own lives in society and the universe.


Plenty of children are eager to read early, and more power to them. But many are simply not ready by kindergarten because they have other important lessons to learn first.


As a recent Harvard study points out, despite the technological advances in contemporary society, children today are essentially the same as always, but kindergarten has changed.


We’re jamming little round kids in square holes for no reason. Get over the competitive, test-driven, blather you hear at schools every day – “little Charlie is in kindergarten but reads at a second grade level” and pay attention to actual intellectual and emotional development. Maybe American education will one day achieve what Finland and Korea have by letting their kids be kids. There’s plenty to learn in the world that is not in books.


Bio: Norman Brosterman is the author of Inventing Kindergarten, on the history of the original Froebel kindergarten system and its influence on the development of the modern mind, and the co-founder of Kaleidograph Design LLC, makers of the award-winning Kaleidograph pattern design toys.