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The Harm in Pressuring First Graders

Pressuring an unready child to read can cause emotional reactions that interfere with reading later on. In the words of psychologist David Elkind, such children are "intellectually burned." They come to be considered to be developmentally defective, when in fact they would have been normal if they had not been pressured. Unready children can be given plenty of work - creative art, handwork, work with magazine pictures, sewing cards, puzzles, block play, etc. They can be allowed to play.

Dr. Kenneth Zike has said that at least 50 per cent of the children with learning problems referred to the neurological clinic at his hospital had had no traumas, no birth injuries, and no other physical deviations. Their trouble seemed to come from pressure - pressure to do a task that they did not have the maturity to do.

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