Then I can easily tell you that most children don’t possess the mental ability to be able to read at that age and that in most American preschools (where this age group would be preschool and not actually a kindergarten class), they generally do not formally teach literacy such as recognizing initial, middle, and final sounds and sounding out words or teaching sight words. They teach reading and writing incidentally by providing the materials and environment for children to explore reading and writing.
For instance, in my class of 3- and 4-year olds, we have been studying community helpers and set up a hospital in our dramatic play. In this area, in addition to the medical materials (fake stethoscope, band-aids, colored water, cotton balls, and Q-tips), we put in a medical chart and examination form, X-rays, a pretend eye chart and pens for the children. They immediately began interviewing their patients and scribbling in the boxes. They were practicing scribbling, connecting words to written symbols, using fine motor control to write in small boxes, and reading the information provided by the diagrams, and even referring to the different E’s on the chart by letter names like W for upward-pointing E’s, M for downward pointing E’s and 3 for left-facing E’s. Would it have been more effective for me to have taught them how to read and write the vocabulary than to have them pretend to read and write the words? I don’t know about that. I do know that it would have been overwhelming for most of them and not appropriate for their age.
Maybe by showing this parent in question the materials you use and what your expectations are for the children while underlining the fact that children develop at their own pace (I know, fantasy world thinking that parents here will accept this idea) and that her daughter is at a level which is appropriate for her age group, you will gain this parent’s confidence. You could even point out that children who tend to be advance readers come from homes where they are read to in an interactive manner and parents are a good model of reading and provide lots of opportunities for exposing their children to print. Flatter her by saying that as long as she keeps showing her daughter how literacy is important to the mother’s everyday life, her daughter will come along.
If you want further proof of emergent reading and writing, use this article on what steps children go through on the road to literacy:
Let’s face it. If the parent is only thinking of her daughter not reading as well as other preschoolers ( ) then there’s a good chance that she’s more interested in the face factor than in the quality of her daughter’s education and nothing you could say short of “I’ll get her reading better than those other kids before June” is going to sway her thinking. However, there’s always a chance that you may help her learn a little more about pre-literacy and emergent reading and of realistic expectations for a 5-year-old.