Choosing a grade level for your child is an important decision, and we generally recommend a placement based on age, regardless of the reading level. Most often, a child who is already learning or comfortable with reading by kindergarten or first grade, for example, is not developmentally ready for the next grade level curriculum across the full range of subjects. We feel it is better to add supplementary activities and assignments to keep your child excited and feeling challenged than to skip a grade.
Additionally, while we are eager for our children to advance along the continuum of academic skills, there are several points to consider when choosing the right grade level for a child.
The first is the importance of a thorough and creative exposure to the sound/symbol connection of our alphabetic system. A solid review of the sounds and shapes of letters, especially with the artistic, imaginative methods used in our curriculum, can be enjoyable for children already reading. Each letter is introduced first through a story, and then is “played with” in nature, art, crafts, rhyming, and song. This method of learning letters is probably very different from anything they have experienced before, and we find that many children who are already reading take delight in the creative exploration of each letter and sound.
A second consideration is one of balanced development. Early reading is certainly a noteworthy accomplishment, but parents should remain mindful that to read a book is primarily an intellectual experience, and a solitary one. At Oak Meadow, we seek to foster a healthy balance with all skills—academic, social, physical, artistic, imaginative—and we encourage young children to be involved in a wide range of activities. If our kindergarten and first grade curricula represent a more relaxed pace with reading for your child, this may offer a good opportunity to reinforce acquired skills while exploring new abilities in other areas.