Thursday, February 18, 2010

After A Hiatus: We're Back to Literacy and Preschool!


It's been a while with the holidays and snow and everything else but I'm committed to posting more frequently here. If you like what you read today, share it with a friend or connect with your fellow preschool teachers at Facebook or Twitter and talk about it!

Tomorrow I'm attending a wonderful north AL institution: the  
NW Alabama Childcare Conference. I am always excited to see all my friends in the early childhood world (teachers and directors) from across the northern part of our state. Angela and Richard and all the other staff of Childcare Education Resources (our north AL quality care enhancement provider for preschools and childcare providers of all sorts) do an incredible, quality job.  And this year, the keynote speaker is truly special: Steven Layne.

Although he's not as commonly known in the world of preschool right now, what I love about Steven is that he combines university and K-12 teaching experience and knowledge with a passion for reading.  He and I share the idea that reading should be powerful, practical and FUN and that we must give children authentic reasons to read.  You're going to enjoy his picture book, Love the Baby! I wish you could all be here to hear him (I understand the book is also available on audio.)

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

If you haven't attended an early childhood conference (one designed especially for those who work with children ages 0-8), I'd encourage you to do so.  Most states have quality care enhancement providers or resource organizations to help you.  If you don't know of any, check with your local state licensing agency.  Here in my home state of Alabama, our state-funded voluntary preK program  a program rated by NIEER's independent study as meeting all 10 qualifiers for a high-quality early childhood initiative) opens their conference to anyone in early childhood, not just their funded programs.  I applaud them for such a great idea.

In your own state, you can often find a conference locally that is not expensive to attend if you just search at bit.  If you can't afford to go this year, make it a goal to save a little each month toward attending in 2011. Ask your director or sponsor of your preschool to consider sending a representative or two to a nearby conference or training.  It is worth the investment in your future and that of your children, even in such hard economic times.  

New Resources for Preschool Teachers and Programs

I also want to share with you a brand new video that teachers you how to play Rhymin' Simon (notice my two twin friends who help me teach the game).  It's an easy way to practice rhyming with your children in whole group or in smaller groups with those that need more focus on this early phonological awareness skill.  Contact me through my website, and verify you watched the video, and I will also send you a set of modifications for children who don't yet know how to rhyme.  When you contact TLA, you'll need to put "RHYMING MODIFICATIONS" in the subject line to take advantage of this special offer. 

NOTE:  This video is protected by copyright but you can use it for your own education and share the LINK. (please) or this blog with  your friends in the early childhood community (including parents).  For other uses of this video, you'll need to contact TLA, Inc

This game, Rhymin' Simon, is drawn from my new books for early childhood teachers (preschool AND kindergarten) and the partner book for families.   I'm so excited to be able to share the availability of  these resource books with you.

A Chance for Collaboration:

I wrote the educator one (Before They Read) especially for busy preschool and kindergarten teachers. It creates a perfect opportunity for you to create a joint book club with parties from both environments and discuss the needs of children in the transition between preschool and kindergarten.  As I travel the country, I often see kindergarten teachers sharing what they believe children need when they come to school but I believe there needs to be more of a dialogue with both sides sharing their expertise (and preschool teachers often have more to share from their knowledge base about the developmental spectrum of young children than their kindergarten, K-3 or K-5 certified counterparts).

Likewise, the book for parents, Anytime Reading Readiness can give you the opportunities you need to talk with families about key literacy issues, their child's development and "the rush to read". 

 If you are interested in really starting a revolution, purchase the Home/School Literacy Partnership Set which contains two copies of the teacher book and 20 of the parent book.

Rhyming is the doorway into the world of thinking about words for the sounds within them (apart from their meaning).  The ability to recognize and eventually generate  rhymes comes as early as age 2.5 or 3 but it starts with simply playing with the language.  You'll notice that children who have been read to regularly often develop this skill the earliest because their parents and caregivers have been talking about how our language works with them already.  As you talk daily with your children, you have given them many great tools in the language they use; this activity and others like it are the way to effectively build on those experiences as those children move on the road toward getting ready to read.

My last gift to you:

1) Need to find great books to read with young children?  Look no further than
27 of the Literacy Ambassador's Favorite Preschool Books.

You are welcome to share this link to the list with the families you serve.  Set up a display in your classroom that highlights any of these titles you have and share a "shopping list" of great books to enjoy with your child" by listing a few on a postcard for the parents at your center.  Contact your local library and ask them to do the same!  Also encourage moms and dads, grandpas and grandmas to visit my blog for parents.

Til next time . . . share the passion and joy of reading!

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