There’s a pesky myth going around social media that your child will be bored in kindergarten if they start the year already knowing how to read. It goes something like this:
If a child enters kindergarten already reading… What will they do? What will they learn? Won't they get tired of sitting through the same lessons that they already know how to do?
And the shortest, most honest answer to this question is: No, your child will not be bored if they know how to read when they start kindergarten.
Now for the long answer:
What does a day in kindergarten actually look like?
When your child shows up to the first day of kindergarten, there are a lot of things they’ll need to be able to do, like:
- Participate without a parent being there
- Follow their teacher’s directions
- Keep their materials organized
- Use social skills to play and make friends
- Communicate their needs and feelings
These 5 skills don’t even scratch the surface. There’s also all of the academic skills, motor skills, and play skills that they’ll need as well. And when a kid spends 6, 8, sometimes even 10 hours a day at school, they are going to be expected to participate in all types of learning and activities…
…And only about 45 minutes of that time will be focused on reading.
Even less of that time will be focused on independent reading. A good portion of that time will probably be spent whole-class, where the teacher reads a book and asks questions (kids of all reading levels LOVE this time).
So what do you think is more likely: That your child will enter kindergarten knowing how to read and feel bored during that 20 or so minutes of independent reading, or that they’ll be more engaged during that 20 minutes because they feel confident in their reading ability and are able to access any book in the classroom?
Your child is not too smart.
Let’s keep it real. My son will be starting kindergarten this year, and to say he is “already reading” would be an understatement.
And I don’t say this to brag about what a genius he is- because he’s not. He can read because I chose to teach him how to read at a young age.
As a former kindergarten teachers, I saw first-hand what a difference a child’s reading ability can make when they start school. I knew that it was far more likely that he would be bored if he couldn’t read versus if he could.
And when you think about it, it makes a lot more sense for a child to act out because they’re overwhelmed, stressed, or frustrated. But it’s much harder to be bored or to act out while doing something you’re really good at. Typically, kids (and adults) LOVE doing things well.
Because the truth is: kids don’t act out in class because they’re too smart. Misbehavior is not a result of boredom. Most of the time, misbehavior is the result of a lack of behavioral skills that lead to boredom.
Choose your concerns carefully.
As parents, it is natural to worry about every part of our child’s development. And to be honest, there are a lot of things to be worried about.
We should be worried about their safety and how many adults are watching them. We should be worried about whether or not they can make friends or speak up when they see something that isn’t right. We should worry about how skilled their teachers are and what they’re learning when they go to school.
I could write a list of 100 other things to worry about with our little ones, and none of them would include being bored because they can read when they start kindergarten.
And since we only have so much energy to give to our concerns as parents, we have to choose what we worry about very intentionally.
My best advice: don’t waste your time letting other parents scare you into thinking your child will be bored in kindergarten if they can already read because that’s a made-up concern.
If teaching your little one to read is what’s best for them:
Now, I’m not going to try and convince you that you should teach your child to read before kindergarten because that isn’t true for everyone. Teaching your child to read is a very personal decision for you to make on behalf of your child.
But if you do decide that teaching your child to read is what’s best for them, I have tons of resources that can help. My free Beginning Reading Training is available on-demand and gives you step-by-step instructions on how to get started.
And if you decide that you shouldn’t teach your child how to read before kindergarten, that’s great too… just don’t let potential boredom be the reason.