Early Childhood Library Visits

How libraries can promote the 6 pre-reading skills through storytime

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Print Motivations – Thinking that books and reading are fun

  • Make storytimes fun by being creative and enthusiastic
  • Vary programs using a variety of activities and story formats
  • Invite guests with special interests or skills
  • Create interactive storytimes where children can take part

Vocabulary – knowing the names of things

  • Talk, talk, talk and listen twice as much
  • Help children know that they and their opinions are valued
  • Ask questions, encourage discussion
  • Introduce new words and concepts , use descriptive language
  • Challenge children with both fiction and non-fiction

Print Awareness – recognizing print and understanding how books work

  • Use big books and point to words as the story is read to show left to right
  • Explain the format of a book – cover, title, author, illustrator, dedications page
  • Provide parents with handouts and the skills to practice at home
  • Label everything and then point out words in the library

Letter Knowledge – understanding that each letter has its own name and sound

  • Supply alphabet letters, games, books and songs
  • Have posters and writing tools so children can visualize letters and begin to make them
  • Encourage children to print their own names on nametags

Narrative Skills – being able to tell stories and describe things

  • Provide puppets, costumes, toys or flannel boards so children can create their own stories or act out stories shared during storytime
  • Encourage children to tell you what they think the story will be about or ask for a review of what happened in the story

Phonological Awareness – being able to recognize and play with smaller sounds that make up words

  • Play with words, rhymes, songs, poetry
  • Read boos that have rhythms and rhyming words
  • Clap syllables in words and songs
  • Emphasize particular letters or sounds in stories or activities

Music in the Classroom

At Kaneville Community Child Center (KCCC) we feel that incorporating music into our curriculum is so important. The students participate in a 30 minute music class every other week. We teach music basics such as rhythm, tempo, pitch, dynamics and patterns. We enforce these sounds using clapping, egg shakers and rhythm sticks. Our parents love to watch the students perform in our Christmas and Spring programs.

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Music is so important to child development because it helps the body and mind work together. Exposing children to music during early development helps them learn the sounds and meanings of words. Using repetition also helps children’s brains create neural connections to form and stabilize.

Dancing to music helps children build motor skills while allowing students to practice self expression. At KCCC we love to have simple dance parties to get the students moving and to burn off that extra energy. Music allows children to develop social skills while building confidence and creativity. Music instruction also promotes group learning and allows children to practice social skills such as taking turns and cooperation.

Listening to music helps to strengthen memory skills. It stimulates the part of your brain that is responsible for reading, math and emotional development. It can also help to calm a child or relieve stress.

The link below explains the role of music in early childhood, including its importance and role in developing the musical abilities and enjoyment of infants and children, the vocal range, activities, and repertoires appropriate for young children.

We encourage parents to incorporate music into your child’s everyday life. Some simple ways you can achieve this is by listening to age appropriate music at home or in the car. Sing songs before bed or a “Good morning” song when they wake up. Demonstrate how to use simple instruments or make a music craft like a rain tube or maraca.

Waiting for Wings

By Lois Ehlert

This book would be an excellent addition to any child’s library. The author explains the life cycle of butterflies in a rhyming fashion which readers of all ages will enjoy. It is a large book with intriguing pages of various sizes and striking art work. The large print and highly detailed, graphic illustrations will easily hold any reader’s attention.

This book is appropriate for Pre-school through grade school levels. The large colorful illustrations make this an excellent book to read aloud to an entire class or during circle time.

Easily relatable to science or seasonal themes, the book contains beautiful two page spreads on Butterfly Identification and Flower Identification. Advice on planting a Butterfly Garden is included on the last page.

Published by Scholastic Inc.

ISBN: 0-439-42449-6

Reviewed by Christine Banko

Christine Banko is a retired teacher with a background in Child Development, Art, Special Education, and Learning Disabilities.

Read Me A Story

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All children enjoy being read to, and reading to them actually improves their language development on so many levels. They learn to listen and anticipate that all the words will create an interesting story. They learn that stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. They learn that books hold all kinds of information, and they notice that words are found everywhere, on cereal boxes, newspapers, street signs and buildings. They learn that a cook book tells you how to make something. They see that older children and grown ups read all kinds of things to find out all kinds of information.

All of these things reinforce their literary appreciation. As they get older they begin to realize that they can create their own stories. If they have access to books, magazines, and newspapers in the home, and see parents and siblings reading, they learn how to use these resources when they want to find information or create their own stories.

Inevitably they will discover the joy of reading – reading for pure enjoyment. They will see they can travel anywhere and experience all kinds of situations just by opening a book. They will meet characters so interesting they won’t be able to put the book down. And it all started when you read them that first story!

First Day Jitters?

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Anyone experiencing “First Day Jitters”? The first days can be an anxious time even scary for some children (and some moms and dads, too!). They will be walking into a new room or school with all of these new kids, and new grownups, and new “stuff” and maybe Mom looks a little teary-eyed that her “baby” is growing up so fast.  It’s no wonder some kids might suddenly cling to their parents in a panic and cry! Here are some tips for getting through the first few days:

Try to act confident yourself. If you seem anxious and unsure about leaving your child, your child will pick up on that and start wondering if there really is something to worry about!

Be consistent with good byes. We will greet your child and you can give hugs and kisses and say good-bye. We promise to embrace your child and help ease him/her into the classroom!

Make sure to say good-bye when you leave. Trying to “sneak out” when the child is busy and not looking sometimes makes the kids panic a few minutes later, and may make separation even more difficult the next day.

Arrive on time! It seems to be easier on most children if they arrive just before the classroom door is opened. This way they can enter the classroom with their friends! It can be much harder when they arrive after all of the other children have settled into activities.

Separation problems sometimes show up on the second or third day, just when you thought you were getting off easy! It is also common for children to have difficulties when there are major changes in the home. Let us know if there is anything happening at your house that you think is important for us to be aware.

As teachers and parents, we really do understand how hard this can be. We know that you are entrusting us with a very precious gift, and we feel honored that we will be your child’s first teachers.

If your child is having an especially hard time, make sure you have added the communication app of your classroom’s choice  (we use Remind) and the school or teacher may be able to send you a quick note or picture to ease your anxiety about how your child is doing through their first day(s).  Make sure the school and teacher have the correct emails and phone numbers so that they may give you a call or send a quick note.

Remember, that some children will acclimate right away and some may need up to two weeks to really feel comfortable and safe as they get to know their classmates, teachers, routines,  and the rules of their classroom.

Tips to Effectively Praise Your Child

Using encouraging words towards children can have a powerful positive effect on them. Positive reinforcement can condition a child to repeat the praised behavior. Weather its academic or an extracurricular achievement your child benefits from encouragement and positive praise. Giving praise can improve self-esteem, increase motivation to achieve, and enhance perseverance.

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Believe it or not there is a right and wrong way to praise a child. Here are some tips on using words of encouragement for kids effectively.

Praise Sincerely and Honestly

Although we want to praise our child purposely to encourage certain behaviors we do not want to use insincere words because it can be harmful to your child. Praises that are inconsistent to their behavior can lead to self-criticism and even intentional sabotage.

Be Specific and Descriptive

Point out specific aspects of the child’s performance and describe what behavior led to good results. This also shows the child that you have paid attention and that you care.

Praise Their Effort

When children can relate their effort to the praise they learn that they have the power to control or improve through hard work and practice.

Avoid Controlling or Conditional Praise

Praise that is given with the intent to manipulate or control a child can be harmful and affect a child’s self-worth.

Avoid Easy-Task Praise or Over-Praise

Praising an easy task can be perceived as insincere and lowers expectations of the child’s competence. Children who are over-praised will expect praises every time they complete a task.

Avoid Comparison Praise

Children who are praised by comparison can lose motivation faster. Social-comparison praise teaches children that winning, not learning, is the goal.

Use this link to learn about the Do’s and Don’ts of Encouragement!

“Play is serious learning…

Play is the work of childhood” – Fred Rogers

Watching children play may seem like it’s all fun and games, but if you take a closer look, there’s a lot of learning going on. Babies and toddlers explore their physical world by playing with simple items like rattles, plastic cups and bowls, and their all time favorite toy, the empty box. They are fascinated by sand or water in a cup and finding that they can dump it out. They will explore every facet of an empty box, and if it’s big enough they will even crawl into it.

Toddlers will often play side by side but not necessarily with each other. As they reach pre-school age, they begin to play cooperatively.  They imitate what they see adults do, they create every day scenarios, and they begin to cooperate with each other.  They create specific roles and rules for pretend behavior and adopt multiple themes and multiple roles. They learn how to negotiate who is going to be the “mommy” and who is going to be the “baby.” They use props such as dolls, toy dishes, and dress-up clothes. They construct “houses” with sheets on a clothes line. It’s as if they are trying to re-enact what they see in their everyday lives, or what they know of it so far. Children from all cultures play in a similar manner.

Play actually helps foster social interaction and cognitive development.  It helps children realize that others have feelings and needs and it is important to consider other’s perspective.

Most elementary teachers would not expect students to enter first grade already knowing how to read, spell, or do math, but they do hope their students will arrive already knowing how to concentrate, cooperate, pay attention, and be considerate of others. These are the kinds of things children learn through play while interacting with peers.

Today some children don’t have as much opportunity for “constructive play” and this is influenced by several factors.  In many households both parents have to work, and due to hectic pick-up / drop-off schedules, children don’t have the opportunity to play with other kids in their neighborhood. TV, video games, and the computer also cut in on that time. They also interact with modern toys that are not always conducive to building imagination and make-pretend play themes. There are more adult organized and directed activities than in years past, such as sports and dance classes.

A good opportunity for constructive, creative play can be found in early childhood classrooms. Children can play with others from various backgrounds and similar age groups. They can see their peers on a regular basis where large blocks of time are devoted to playing and exploring. Playing may not look very important to the untrained eye, but if you take a closer look, you’ll see children are learning more and more about the world every day.

FREE Guide to Choosing Preschool or Child Care

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Let’s face it! Choosing preschool or child care can be overwhelming whether it’s your first child, your first experience with child care, or you have experience with child care but life has thrown you a curve ball and you need to start searching again.  Here are some helpful tips to consider when making this very important decision for your family.

Start early!  Start looking as far in advance as you can but at least one year prior to attending.  Tours are typically offered October through January.  Some schools/centers have year round admissions and attendance is accepted as long as there is an open slot.  If you are expecting a new baby, begin researching your options now! Depending on where you live, you may need to get on a wait list even before your baby is born. No matter what type of care you are considering finding the right child care center or preschool is a process that needs to be started as early as possible.  After all, you will be searching for the best fit for your child and your family when it comes to providing care and/or preschool, their daily needs, and a safe/happy environment that you trust.  Begin thinking about what type of care may fit your family’s needs and your child’s personal style best.
Where to look? The best ways to find preschool programs are to attend preschool fairs where you can talk with teachers in person, get recommendations from fellow parents and scope out the programs’ websites.  Join a local mom blog or neighborhood social media group and get references. Locations close to home or work are a good start but remember they may not be the best fit for your family.  It may be worth your while to check out other centers or schools recommended by families like yours or families in your neighborhood in addition to the ones that are closer to home or work.

First, make a call and schedule a tour. Then submit the application and fee if it feels like a great fit. Usually you can tour the school while classes are in session, and sometimes you can even bring your child to spend time in the classroom.  Bring your child to see how they respond to the setting and teachers.  Bring anyone with you who may drop off or pick up as well.  Be ready with a notepad on the tour, and bring a list of all your questions.  If your gut says, “I LOVE it!” and your child responds well, go ahead and submit the application and fee.  If you are still on the fence, schedule a tour for each center/school you are considering.  Be patient as this is a very important decision.

Know your needs. Children usually attend preschool for two years between the ages of 3 and 5 years old. Often, preschools run half-day programs for a nine-month school year. Some preschools have half-day and/or full-day programs and some offer before and after school care.  Child care centers vary from birth to age 12.  Most are year round five days a week.  Some parents opt for a half-day preschool and hire a nanny if they need additional hourly care. Be very specific to what your needs are when it comes to days of the week and hours needed.  Do you need to make a different schedule each month and will the facility be able to accommodate it?  Do they offer a drop-in program for those unexpected days when your child isn’t already scheduled for that day?  Grab your pad of paper and write down exactly what you need for your kiddos’ schedule.

Ask questions to make an informed choice. Visit all the child care facilities you are considering. Before your visits, create a list of questions that you plan to ask and note indicators of quality that you will look for. Make special note of these key qualities:

  • Adult to Child Ratio – the smaller the ratio, the better!
  • Group Size – the smaller the group, the better!
  • Teacher Qualifications – what is their training and education?
  • Turnover – how long have they been with this facility?

What to look for? Observe the staff and child interactions in each classroom. Pay close attention to the language used in the classrooms and the friendliness of the staff.  Make note of how the teachers interact with students and with YOU.

Home-to-school connections are important. Preschools that have high family involvement are often the schools with the strongest programs. When families are involved, children do better, teachers feel supported and everyone works together for the children.

High-quality preschools have structure and routines.  They follow a specific philosophy or model (i.e. play based, Montessori, Reggio-Emilia, faith based, or an outdoor program).  Do they have a daily routine?  If so, how does that work?  What are their guidelines for addressing challenging behavior?

Discipline policies should emphasize positive approaches to teaching children new skills and proactive strategies for behavior management such as classroom rules, routines and social-emotional lessons or curriculum.

Ask about policies. Find out the policies on potty training, discipline, tuition, drop-off and pick-up.

What is the philosophy on learning and development or their Core Values? Ask about their philosophies on learning and development. You’ll want to hear an enthusiastic and passionate response to this question.  Preferably, you’ll want to choose a preschool that follows a play based emergent curriculum. Having a solid set of core values not only helps the children but also the families and the teachers.  It is vital to have a strong partnership between the school/center and the families who are enrolled.

Trust your gut and know what’s most important for your family.  Does the program seem like a place that your child would enjoy coming to each day? Does it seem like a place that you can trust?  Will their program accommodate your families needs and calendar?

Decision made! Now stay involved as much as you can. Now that you’ve found the best fit for your child, the work continues as you are now partners with your chosen child care/preschool. Here are some ways to be involved: Meet regularly with your caregivers and teachers, and ask questions. Volunteer whenever needed, like being a special reader for the day, help with fundraisers, or join their parent group or Board (if they have one). Enjoy your child’s birthday with their classmates. Join in special events, field trips, family events, music programs, or for holiday parties or gatherings.

Printable version  FREE Guide to Choosing Preschool or Child