I hope that you and your students are enjoying the beginning of the spring season!
Each year at this time, early childhood educators celebrate the NAEYC Week of the Young Child, April 10 – April 16.
This year the theme is “Early Years are Learning Years” with a focus upon the following areas:
- Raising Public Awareness
- Public Policy and Advocacy
- Reading and Writing
- Violence Prevention
- Child Health
NAEYC suggests ways for teachers to engage families, businesses, political officials , non-profit organizations and other community groups in activities to heighten the importance of the early years and the significance of quality early childhood education.
I would like to highlight three of the topic areas mentioned above: Reading and Writing and Creativity.
Reading and Writing/Creativity
A great idea is to involve families and other members of the community in your literacy program. Since the creative or expressive arts can enhance children’s ability to learn in subject areas such as reading and writing, I have included some approaches below.
Any opportunity for young children to hear and respond to stories and to look at books is a great way to support young children’s literacy development. Check out the NAEYC website to see how you can involve the community in early childhood literacy awareness.
Here are some specific suggestions to promote children’s interest in reading and writing, using some fun and creative approaches:
- “Mystery Reader” Ask family members to sign up to be a classroom reader once or twice during the year. Make sure each child in your group is represented by someone who will be his or her “Mystery Reader.” When the “Mystery Reader” knocks at the door, none of the children know who will be the reader that day. They are very surprised and excited when they see that it is a member of their family who is the “Mystery Reader” of the day! All this excitement around the reading experience heightens children’s interest in the activity.
- “Book Bag Buddies” Provide each child with a book bag filled with a couple of read-aloud books, which he or she can take home on a weekly basis. Ask families to read the books at home to their children and to talk to their children about the stories. Each week, have children in the class exchange the books they have read at home with other children in the class.
- “Act it Out” Select one of the children’s favorite stories to act out in class. Make sure each child has some role in the play and that the children are very familiar with the story. Invite family members to see the children in the play. Simple stories might include The Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, The Billy Goats Gruff, Stone Soup or Andy and the Lion. Add simple props and music to make the play even more fun!
- “Story Reflection Book” After you read a book to the children, encourage them to comment about the story and ask them questions about it. Select an aspect of the story or character, and ask the children to draw pictures of it. Then have the children dictate a sentence or two to you about their drawings and write it on their papers. To encourage beginning writing, ask the children to write their names on their pictures and any other letters they are able to write. Make a story-response book of the children’s drawings and dictations. Invite community members to attend a children’s “Story Share” day.
- “Puppet Characters” Ask children to select their favorite story and create a puppet show with their puppets. Encourage children to make up their own stories to act out with the puppets as well. Invite family members or other members of the community to see the show!
- “Library Explorers” Schedule trips to the library with the students to participate in the story hour and to browse and check out books. Encourage parents to accompany your class to the library and see what the library offers young children. Ask members of the business community to support library projects with your school such as children’s authors day, special speakers events, or new picture books and materials for the library.
- “Family Storybook” Ask children to bring photos of their family members and photos of objects that have significance to their family. Have each child create a family storybook. As the children to dictate stories about their families and the objects they have chosen. Examples might be a photo of a shawl that their grandmother wore at her wedding in Chile or a guitar that their father played in a high school band.
- “Music, Music, Music” Many children’s songs are actually stories and poems put to music. Adding music with storybooks to your literacy activities will further support children’s literacy development. Look for nursery rhymes that have been made into songs such as Classic Nursery Rhymes as well as songs that have been made into books such as Old McDonald Had A Farm and The Ant’s Go Marching.
I hope you and your students find ways to celebrate and enjoy the Week of the Young Child with the members of your community!
With best wishes to you,