Bright Ideas

Why the Common Core State Standards Matter

Linda Rhoads, Alliance for Childhood

At the Alliance for Childhood, we strive to be a voice for children when there are issues of concern that may not be widely recognized. While the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have both pros and cons, our new report draws attention to the reading instruction standards for kindergarten. 
With children developing at varying rates, educational strategies should allow for this variation in children’s development. With regard to reading, some children are ready to read early and are indeed reading before age five. However, many children are not developmentally ready to read in kindergarten. Yet the Common Core State Standards require them to do just that. 
In states where the Standards have been adopted, the reading in kindergarten standard may result in the push down of didactic instruction by teachers who are under pressure to meet the reading requirement. 
So how will you communicate with the parents who – with the best intent for their children – insist that their child learn to read before she or he may be ready?
How does outdoor nature play provide a strong foundation for reading? How do outdoor experiences help develop a child’s interest in reading for understanding of the concepts behind the letters and words? What are the elements of your program that entice children to be interested in reading? How are you integrating language development into the everyday experiences of children? How are your programs introducing relationships in nature that can be described, explained, questioned and clarified through language? 
The natural world provides a limitless canvas upon which to build language skills for young children. Consider the environment as a context for nurturing creativity, imagination, investigation, problem-solving, original thinking, communication and vocabulary building – all important for assigning meaning to printed words when a child is ready to read. 
To further prompt your thinking, I invite you to download the full article, Reading Instruction in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose. In partnership with our friends at Defending the Early Years, we offer this new and powerful report on the implications of the Common Core reading requirements on young children's development. The report addresses such topics as:
  • Developmental readiness to read in kindergarten
  • Lack of research showing long-term gains from early reading
  • Developmental gains from play-based programs
  • The importance of language-rich environments
  • Best practices for children to become fluent readers
  • Policy and practice recommendations
Although the scope of the report is broader than nature-based approaches, we hope it will serve as a valuable resource to communicate the need for age-appropriate, outdoor play experiences for young children. 


literacy, reading, common core state standards