In the 90s, the main focus of kindergarten was teaching kids social skills, social interaction and structured play with a little bit of academics thrown in. Kindergarten has come a long way though. Since “No Child Left Behind” Kindergarten has become increasingly focused on academic rigor including the incorporation of more spelling, sentence writing, story writing, probability and writing math equations. Even the length of the kindergarten day is longer.
Three longitudinal studies (Juel, 1988; Francis et al., 1996; Shaywitz et al., 1999) have put the weight of research squarely behind the skill deficit theory and against the developmental lag theory. Each study tracked the reading development of children beginning in first grade.?The main difference between the two theories is that the developmental lag theory posited that difficulties in learning to read would fade as the brain matured?early, urgent intervention was not necessary. In contrast, the skill deficit theory claimed that waiting wouldn’t work; children wouldn’t pick up these skills unless they were taught directly and intensively. In fact, waiting would be harmful, as it condemned children to falling further behind.
Thus when you are considering whether tutoring at the kindergarten level is too young to start, consider that waiting will not improve the chance your child will pick up the skills if they are already behind in kindergarten.?
One on one direct instruction in phonemic awareness, especially during the summer when students often forget what they learn during the school year, will greatly improve their chances at reading success in first grade and beyond.