Thursday, March 10, 2011

ATTENTION: Preschool Parents - QUOTES TO PONDER, Getting Ready for Kindergarten!, and MORE!

First of all, happy birthday to my friend and a wonderful illustrator (who drew my little friends which are the illustrations on this posting) - Pegi Ballenger.  You can see more of her beautiful art at her website.

Now, on to the real purpose of these next few posts

Recently, I've been preparing and revising my workshop on getting ready for Kindergarten from a language and literacy perspective and have two new sets of resources to help you get ready for that big event as a result:.  If your child is a younger preschooler, these will help you start to think about this important transitional time; if your child is older, please share this blog with someone you know who has a 4-5 year old.
  For the next few posts, I'll be sharing:

1) A series of quotes relating to the foundational skills necessary to be successful in the very structured, rigorous environment that is the modern-day kindergarten.

2) a glossary of terms every parent needs to know before their child enters those school house doors.

Here we go . . .

Without fundamental understandings of the functions and uses of literacy (such as storybook reading, language play, written language use in everyday practices), children may not profit from phonological awareness instruction. . . Sulzby and Teal.

That helps parents see what is important - not flashcards and drills and fancy video games . . . the literacy your child will develop in school is built on his or her ORAL language abilities (speech and processing).

Through introduction to various forms of narrative texts - including nursery rhymes (look for modern ones if you aren't into the old fashioned "Mother Goose") poetry, big books (oversized) and wordless picture books  -- in an environment where inherent curiosity is encouraged, a child is able to begin a lifelong love of reading that will continue outside the classroom.

The challenge I find so much of the time is that parents don't see the connection between taking time from a busy schedule to talk and read and a child's ultimate success in school.  They are inseparable.  Think snippets of time; not big blocks.  Think within my real word; not "I have to stop".

The Beginning of Our Glossary of Terms

Teachers live in a world of science and acronyms but don't always have the awareness that families may not be familiar with those terms.  Here's the start of a beginning list.  If your child's teacher uses an unfamiliar term, don't be upset with yourself because you don't know - ask what it means.

Alliteration:  the repetition of a beginning letter sound with several words,  Tongue Twisters are alliteration - the bad boy broke the basket - it focuses on the letter "b". (Alliteration is important because it begins children thinking about how words sound in addition to what they mean).

Book Awareness - knowing how books work, that you read them from front to back, left to right and top to bottom on the page, that they have an author, an illustrator and a title (academic terms), that they have a front cover and a title page.

Dialogic Reading:  an interactive shared picture book reading practice designed to enhance young children's language and literacy development.  During the shared reading practice, the adult and the child switch roles so that the child learns to become a part of the storytelling with the assistance of an adult who listens and poses questions.  Even non-readers can still become a part of the storytelling through conversation, looking at the pictures, responding to prompts from the adult reader.  This type of reading aloud to children is found to have positive effects on the development of their oral language and phonological awareness (you learn about those terms later).

Finally - a few new books to tell you about:

Just One Bite by Lola Schaefer


Snow Day! by Lester Laminack

Stay tuned for more!

Monday, March 7, 2011

On the Independent Reader Channel

Switching Gears

It seems that this blog recently has gravitated to parents of children who are just beginning to read or who may not yet be readers.   That certainly is an important time.

However, this post will be devoted to those readers in 3-4th grade and beyond. One of the most common mistakes I see parents make is, when their child becomes an independent reader at some level, moving away from supporting their child as a reader.  Most of the time it's because the parent mistakenly believes that the child can now "do it on his/her own" and doesn't need anything further.

They Aren't Ready to Fly Solo

The truth is that children continue to mature as readers into their adult years.  In one manner of speaking, if we keep reading all our lives, we are constantly becoming better, deeper readers and thinkers.  That translates into better problem-solvers, more creative individuals and who wouldn't want that for their child?

Unique ways to support your older reader

The same strategies you use to encourage reading with a 5, 6 or 7 year old won't be very effective with a pre-teen or teen.  Think "what are they interested in?" and answer that question with a book, a magazine, an online resource.

Think about reading as a tool for life and ask yourself, "how can I help my child use this tool effectively?"

Practice and exposure to what they want to read is always important.

Dr. Steven Layne, one of my favorite researchers, reminds us all that we cannot forget to encourage reading for its pleasure, its interest.  Click on his name in the previous sentence to read more.

Lastly, the U.S. Department of Education has some good advise and, although their brochure Helping Your Child Through Early Adolescence isn't exclusively about supporting him/her as a reader, it does give some excellence tips in that area.

Looking for new titles?  Try these:

From the New York Times Chapter Books (January, 2011)
Chapter Books for Middle Readers 
Random House selections
Want to try something really new?  Check out Jon Scieszka's chapter books
Don't forget to visit my friends at the Reading Tub.

Happy reading!

A final P.S.  I'll be traveling next week to Springfield, IL for the Illinois Reading Council Conference.  If you know anyone who lives in that central part of Illinois or is planning to attend the convention (mostly educators and librarians), please let them know I'll be presenting 3/17/2011.

As always, comments about content or books are welcome!