When it comes to posting online, going viral is a good thing. The most recent viral video I have seen was of an adorable baby boy. The baby was about 18 months and super cute- I mean the cuddly, chubby cheek cute that makes you smile on sight. Yet, his overwhelming cuteness was not the reason his video went viral. The video featured the baby holding a stack of flash cards and READING the words written on each card. At lone point he realized the card was upside down and turned the card right side up before reading the word on the card. He had hundreds of thousands of views and plenty of comments from people who were in awe over his early literacy skills, but I was taken by his chubby thighs and smile.
As a parent and an SLP, I am saddened to see how early education is changing, particularly kindergarten. A 2011 nationwide study by the Gesell Institute for Child Development found that the ages at which children reach developmental milestones have not changed in 100 years. So the question is why are we placing more academic demands on children at an earlier age? Are we doing harm or good by placing increased emphasis on academic skills and less opportunities for children to play and socialize in a formal setting with their peers?
Children have to learn when their brains are ready to absorb the information. It’s important that children have the opportunity to learn in a developmentally appropriate setting, which is why play is so critical for children under the age of 5. Play offers the children the chance to build literacy, language, and social skills. So with that said, parents I encourage you to teach your child how to stack blocks and blow bubbles. Engage in peek-a-boo and imaginary play with toy food, dolls, cars, and trucks. Read and look at pictures in books. Identifying letters and words will come all in due time.