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Is my daughter really Learning Disabled if she can't count to 100?
Q: My daughter will be starting school soon. I heard that before children enter public school they must know their numbers up to 100, and all their colours and letters from sight. And if they fail, they’re labeled as L.D. I can’t believe this! My daughter can't count to 100 and she can't say her ABCs by sight … I thought these are things children learn in school. Is my child behind? What should I do?
A: You didn’t indicate whether by “starting school” you meant kindergarten or first grade. There is a difference here relating to what children are expected to know. If you meant kindergarten, then I would say you are 100% right; children should not be expected to know all these things before they begin kindergarten. If you meant first grade, I would say the expectation is more reasonable. Even so, a child who doesn’t know these things before starting school should not be labeled as Learning Disabled. I wish I knew who had told you about these “requirements.” You could have heard it from a school official, but it is more likely that you heard it from another parent. Because of our current national emphasis on literacy, many parents are pushing early childhood educators to do more formal teaching of reading skills in kindergarten. To be sure, children should be taught reading in kindergarten, but the way to do that is not by having them memorize the ABCs and to count to 100. The best way to teach reading in kindergarten is to talk and listen to the children, to read to them every day, to provide play materials that help them develop the eye-hand coordination they must have before writing, and to let them be creative in their play. If you do these things at home with your daughter, she will be ready to read.