Learning More Than Facts and Concepts
How Do We Help Preschoolers Enjoy Reading?
As parents and educators we all have the goal of opening up the world of words and reading to our young children and students. But how might we spark attention and engagement with story books by our young learners?
A major contribution of the story-reading experience is the pleasure that it can bring. First of all, stories are often very interesting. They talk about children, animals, pretend characters, funny situations, even frightening events that usually turn out all right. Entering into the world of stories on their own is something that many children want to do once they have experienced the joy that stories can bring. So lots of exposure and experiences with stories can build a positive attitude toward reading and hopefully a strong desire to learn to read.
Aside from a child’s interest in the stories themselves, there is an emotional/social component of the story-reading experience. The personal interaction between adult and child is almost always a positive, nurturing, time together. Story book reading often takes place with the child on the parent’s lap, or snuggled besides classmates as the teacher reads aloud. The bedtime story may be one of the most positive times of the day for parent and child, especially if it is a nightly ritual. Because the parent and child know the routine, usually the negotiations that characterizes other activities during the day is not present at bedtime story reading ( except maybe for number of books to be read ). The book , as the basis for interaction, makes talking together easy. Bedtime story reading is also often wrapped up with other bedtime rituals like the goodnight kiss, singing a lullaby, and tucking in, which are among the most nurturing and positive of parent-child interactions.
If a child’s experience with books is enjoyable, and it occurs under especially warm and nurturant conditions, the feelings associated with reading and books are likely to be highly positive. The development of such positive attitudes toward books and reading is one of the most important contributions of early book-reading experiences. So parents be sure to put the evening bedtime story as a high priority on your daily list of tasks to be done! This simple, daily, bonding activity can provide a lifetime of learning and knowledge for your child.
Make Time To Talk
In school teachers know that it’s important to talk everyday with each child, using the kind of talk that builds language and thinking skills. Making time to talk helps young children learn new words and how to use language and how to tell you their ideas and needs, and that helps them have fun with language!
This make time to talk practice should also continue at home. Mealtimes can be good times to talk with children. Ask questions that encourage the child to think, questions involving predicting things that might happen, using imagination, explaining why things happened in a particular way. Be sure to converse with your child at eye level making eye contact. Extend your conversation with your child. Conversations should go back and forth with each person responding to the other. Tell stories to your child and ask them to tell you stories about their day in school and school friends.
Involve your children in group conversations at the dinner table. Make connections between learning units and themes at school, activities at home, books read at school as well as home, and your child’s own play to help build their understanding of word meanings.
Expand on your child’s language by repeating it with extensions ( adding descriptive words, using any words correctly that your child used incorrectly, adding to or building on the child’s ideas. Remember two-way conversations are best. Your child should be doing at least half the talking.
Texts such as books, posters, newspapers, and magazines provide things to talk about with children. Read them together, asking questions and discussing them as you go along. Act out stories with children, re-using words from a book you read aloud together. Encourage your child to retell the story with puppets, toys, and in their art.
Lastly language should include rich varied words that you want your child to learn to understand and use. Keep the conversation going through questions and comments. Make time to talk!
Thoughts on Progress Reports in Preschool
Parent teacher conferences are an opportunity for teachers to share a “snapshot” of their students in the classroom setting. This picture is a time exposure of students that’s been developing during the past few months. Considering preschooler’s many likes and dislikes, mood changes from day to day, it’s probably a pretty good likeness of most students.
When you see your child’s snapshot, remember this is a report of someone near and dear to you. So, please don’t get too uptight if you see a blemish. Remember to accept your student as they are.
Please do not picture your child as being better than all the other children. Remember that all children do not learn to talk or walk at the same time. Please do not compare your child to their brother, sister, or neighbor next door. Please set realistic goals, but be careful not to push your preschooler to succeed at something that is beyond their ability. Children of preschool age really need help, guidance, and encouragement to be their very best!
Be mindful and understand that your child’s progress report is a picture of their school progress. Your child’s teacher knows your student as they are in school. Parents know their children as they are at home. The “real” preschool student is somewhere in between. When these two pictures become blended with acceptance and understanding, we believe the “snapshot” will be a shining portrait.