According to an article in the current issue of Time there is a growing trend in academic tutoring for preschool aged children. The preschoolers are being taught skills traditionally learned in kindergarten and first grade. Part of this craze may be attributed to a study recently published in Developmental Psychology citing a high corollary between future academic success and entering kindergarten with elementary level math and reading skills. The preschoolers being targeted by Kumon, Sylvan and other learning centers are average preschoolers and not at risk for future learning problems. Is there a real benefit to kindercramming?
I believe that early learning experiences are important for future academic success. However, I do not agree with forcing preschoolers into academic drill sessions that are not developmentally appropriate. Young children learn best through structured play experiences. Providing your child with books, building materials, art supplies, writing supplies, puzzles and learning games is more beneficial and appropriate than worksheet driven tutoring sessions.
One of the most important things a parent can do is to read to their child every day. Dr. Seuss or other rhyming books help children learn word patterns and develop phonological awareness. Predictable books like Brown Bear, Brown Bear and other Bill Martin books are great first steps in reading. As your child learns the book encourage them to track the words with their finger. Yes, they have memorized the book and are not reading. Encourage all interest in reading by your child.
In my opinion it is better time playing, talking and reading to your child than spend money on tutoring sessions for preschoolers.