Should Kindergarten Children Learn to Read and Write?

I am a kindergarten teacher. Each year after Christmas my door and hall becomes covered with writings that the children have created. I am very passionate about writing. I introduce my children to journal writing from day one. After Christmas I begin heavily introducing my students to book reading.

I am very proud to say that as of now only one child in my class is not what I would consider to be a “reader”. Over half of my class is reading in first grade or beyond text. I had assumed that this was something to be proud of. However not everyone feels that way.

Recently I had the following comment made to me:

I think that it is so sad that you are expecting kindergarten children to read and write.

Thankfully, this comment was not made by one of my parents.

However, it still shocked me and honestly it hurt.

I took the comment and pondered over it for a few days. I even questioned that perhaps I was too demanding of my students. I also began to observe them more closely. I noticed that they asked me when we were going to do reading groups. They questioned when it would be journal time. I also noticed that many of them had already thought about what they were going to write that day even before they came to school. They also commented on how they read more than the assigned text the night before.

I realized that the children were excited about reading and writing. So no it is not sad. Although I do understand where the comment came from. Yes I would love to spend all day teaching my class how to get along and how to play and all about the proper etiquette in life. Yet society demands more. I have state guidelines.

First grade teachers expect more. Employers expect more. Therefore I am obligated to my children to give more.

I think that it would be sad if I were pushing them to the point that they were upset and not interested in reading and writing. However if taught in the proper steps and techniques, children can be reading and writing before they even realize it.

So maybe we do expect too much from our children and we do push them to grow up too quickly. But what an injustice it would be if we were to throw them out into the world unprepared.

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