My thoughts on reading in Early Childhood (and beyond)

Updated: Oct 4, 2020

People often ask me about Steiner and Reading. Our home is filled with books, we all love to read - and read all sorts, from biographies to fiction, history and philosophy. We want our children to foster that love of reading.

Children in Steiner schools do not formally start reading or academics until they are rising seven, and their formative forces..physical development, the brain and nervous system, walking and motor skills, linguistic development and the establishment of behaviour patterns is rounded and secure. (In the EYFS in the U.K. this would be the three Prime Areas of Learning. A recent paper “Getting it right in the Early Years Foundation Stage” by the Centre for Research in Early Childhood, which examines the proposed government amendments to the EYFS and Early Learning Goals, there is a key understanding and clear response that a foundation of rich oral language must be in place before children are formally taught phonics and early reading. Alongside the urge to incorporate more arts and crafts in learning and the importance acknowledge to play based pedagogies beyond the Early Years (in the UK this is age 5) only supports the ideas and practices which have been used in Steiner education for 100 years.

Through my own experiences with my older children and their journey in reading I can say waiting is always better than trying to force reading on a child who is not ready - and it is this reason we are not going to pursue or encourage reading until Arya shows she is ready and wanting to do so. We have books with images - whereby free from narrative she can use her imagination to form her own ideas and scenarios, a lot of these books are richly illustrated and when we sit and look together the possibilities are still endless no matter how many times we have seen them. We still have books with text, and she has favourites, I so think it’s important that children know print carries meaning - and when she’s ready by her own will to understand that meaning we will follow her lead.

Reading should not be a race or a competition, it should be a journey of discovery, of wonder, that can be fostered throughout life. 📚 📖

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