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Reading Readiness

16 Jun

Reading Readiness

The other day I heard about the “Your Baby Can Read” infomercial. Out of curiousity I googled this infomercial, and both the mom and the teacher in me wanted to cry.

Has our society really come to this? Are parents really buying this video? Is it necessary for such young children to learn to read? Is placing them in front of a video and using flashcards really the best way to teach children?

Parents want so desperately to give their children a head start in this hyper-competitive world, that I can see how this video/flashcard system can be a moneymaker for its creators.

“You’re forgetting about Reading Readiness! Children will read when they are ready to read! Let babies be babies! Let children be children!”

I am teacher hear me roar.

I’ll back up that roar with some suggestions for Reading Readiness for infants through preschoolers that I’ve learned as both a teacher and a parent.

My guess is they cost a lot less than what any infomercial can sell you.

1. Read to your child. Everyday. It should be an enjoyable activity.

2. It is a wonderful thing when a child wants to hear the same story over and over again. Read it until you have it memorized, and then read it many times more.

3. Talk to your child. Ask your child questions, even when they are too young to answer. (Always pause and give them time to answer.) Tell your child what your are doing. Provide a running commentary as you go about your day. Talk, talk, talk!

4. What difference can following numbers 1,2 and 3 make? Tens of thousands of words! Children are a blank slate, capable of learning ANY language in the world. Just imagine the vocabulary you can teach your child.

5. Sing songs that rhyme. If you can’t sing, then chant nursery rhymes. Rhyming is so important for hearing the ending sounds of words. Many children love silly songs and poems, and may create some of their own.

6. Alliteration is the beginning sounds of words. Find songs or poems with alliteration. Teach them to your children. “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.” Children will learn to hear (and feel with their mouth) the beginning sounds of words.

7. Sing the ABC song over and over again. Everyday. You can even use a small chart and point to each letter as you sing it. You would be amazed how many children think that “LMNOP” is one giant letter. Many children think that there is an “N” between Y and Z. 

8. While reading a story to your child, ask questions about the story. “What color is the dog? Do you think the dog will ever get home? What will the dog do next? Did you like the story?” This builds comprehension and vocabulary.

9. If you think your child might not know a word, give it a definition. “Do you know what a spade is?” (Wait a little while for a response, even for non-talkers.) “Spade is another word for shovel. Do you see the spade?” Then point to the picture.

10. When reading a story follow the words with your finger. Left to right, return sweep, top to bottom, front to back. Let your child help to turn the page.

11. Talk about the front and back of the book. Talk about the author and illustrator. Are the pictures drawn, painted, colored or are the pictures photographs? This helps build print awareness.

12. Let children see you reading books, recipe books, magazines, and newspapers. Take children to the library. They will be able to see that words are important to you.

13. Talk about the print all around you. There is environmental print everywhere. You find print on cereal boxes, snack bags, signs and toys. The possibilities are endless, and this is another opportunity for print awareness.

14. Remember that letter identification and letter sounds will be learned when the time is right. Each child who can learn, will learn when they are ready. 

15. Relax, read a book, and have a conversation.

Children grow up too fast, so let’s stop pushing the fast forward button.

Mrs. V


Pancake-monium or p.j.-monium or…

23 Feb

Maybe I should title this post Preschoolers in Pajamas eating Pancakes Producing Pandemonium.  Too long?  Too much alliteration? 

I like alliteration.

That is one of the reasons why last Friday was Pancakes and Pajama Day at Preschool.  Another reason is that it is just plain fun, and breaks up the winter doldrums.  Read on…


It was pajama day, so yes, I wore pajamas.  Would you expect anything else from me?  Guess what kind they were.


Give up already?

I wore Frosty the Snowman PJs that I bought on clearance at WalMart for$4!  I love a bargain. 

I also love getting a reaction from the children.  “You’re wearing pajamas?!?”  “Hey, you’re wearing pajamas!”  Which I responded to with a shocked “I am?  Oh, my goodness, I forgot to get dressed!”   “You’re silly Mrs. V.”  “I like your pajamas.”

Yes, I’m a sucker for adoration from 4 and 5 year olds.  I do not deny this fact at all.  It is yet another reason I am a preschool teacher.

The children wore pajamas too.  I had a parent comment how our classroom looked like a giant pajama/sleep over party.  It did!  We were all warm and fuzzy, and the children even suggested a sleepover.

Bless their little hearts. 

I may be crazy, but I am not insane!

At group time I asked my star helper (I’ll call the child Princess), “Princess do you know what day it is?”  Princess replies “Pancake Day!!!”  Then I tell the class we’re going to figure out what number our day is so I start to count “15, 16, 17, 18, 19….”  Since I was expecting to hear “20”, I was a little startled when Princess shouted “Pancake Day!!!”  (Again…) Of course the whole class was excited because they too forgot all about the number 20.

We read Pancakes, Pancakes by Eric Carle.  “Let’s make a pancake!”  It’s a great story, especially in the big book size.

We played a pancake counting game, twice.  They wanted to play it some more, but time always seems to run out on our very busy day.

I told the story The Runaway Pancake , and I did this using plastic people and animals and a pancake stick puppet.  It doesn’t sound like much, but my little pajama-clad friends were enthralled by the story.   “And the Pancake Man rolled on…”   I must be a good story teller, because they really got caught up in the story.  Overheard at the end of the story “It’s not real!!!”  When I ended with a  “snip, snap, snup, he ate the pancake man up!”    Oops… I must’ve gotten a little excited myself.   

Wonderful parent volunteers came in and helped make and serve the pancakes.  So I did not have to do any cooking this year.  I love it when parents are able to come in and help with a special event like this.  What a difference it makes in our day.

Before we have snack, we do a little poem and the children clap their hands or roll their hands or do both.  The star helper, Princess again, gets to make that choice.  So I asked  “Princess, what would you like… rolls, claps or both?”  Princess replies “Pancakes!”  Pancake fever had set in completely by that time, judging from the reaction from the entire class. 

The children used real plates and silverware to eat their pancakes.  They “washed”  the dishes after they were finished eating their piles of pancakes.  This is also our little way of washing off those sticky hands.   Of course,  my amazing parent volunteers thankfully rewashed and sanitized the dishes.   

The whole room smelled of imitation maple syrup . 

I love it when a day goes as planned.

Then we put on our snowpants and coats and went out to play in the snow in our pajamas.

Mrs. V

Hey Teacher! You’re back!

22 Oct

Yes, indeed I am back. 

Where was I? 

At the Happiest Place on Earth, of course!

It was just what the doctor ordered for bringing the fun and joy back into my life. 

The Happiest Place on Earth!

The Happiest Place on Earth!

And today I was back to reality. Back to work. And you know what? They missed me! Each and every one of my 40 little friends actually missed me. (Okay, really it was only 38, since 2 were out sick today, but I will assume those two missed me also.) I was the happy recipient of hugs, conversation, and the “I can’t believe you’re finally back” grins and stares. It is very rewarding for my teacher ego. A pat on the back, I guess you could say.  Everything went well while I was gone, which is terrific, but it feels good to be welcomed back with open arms.  Bless those little preschoolers.  I missed them too!

I spent yesterday unpacking, grocery shopping, and trying to bring general order back into my life.  My children went back to school, but they weren’t so keen on the idea.  My son is going through some heavy Disney withdrawl, which includes missing the presence of Grandma, Grandpa and his youngest cousin.  The “Disney Crash”, as I like to call it, is a harsh wake-up call back to reality. My daughter has done fairly well with it, but that is because she’s back into her social network, the place that most people might refer to as school.

We spent 6 days and 6 nights in Disney bliss.  And yes, we went to the parks each of those 6 days!  I rode roller coasters, fast rides, slow rides, and rides in between.  I rode myself into vertigo.  Seriously.  My ears are screwed up.  The airplane rides didn’t help with that either.  But I just love rides.  Lots and lots of rides. 

Space Mountain and a full moon.  Perfection.

Space Mountain and a full moon. Perfection.

The company was pleasant, and included my younger sister, her hubby and of course their son, my brother-in-law’s nephew, my youngest sister, and of course my folks who were the generous host and hostess of this family oriented vacation.  We came away still liking each other, and most importantly, still speaking to one another.   Thanks Mom and Dad.  We had a blast!

Hey, hey, the gang's all here!

Hey, hey, the gang is all here!

The food was awesome.  It is a good thing that you have to walk your feet off there.  Otherwise my pants would not have fit upon my return to reality.

The weather was warm, bordering on hot and humid too.  However, I did not care.  I was in Disney World!  It doesn’t get much better than that. 

Yes, I know,  some people despise Disney because they think it is too big, too crowded, or too expensive.  But they can’t burst my bubble.  I love Disney.  I’ve been there 6 times.  My folks have been there 29 times.  I don’t know how many times my younger sisters have been there.  My youngest sister actually worked there while she was in college.  So you’re looking at some hard-core Disney people.  Negativity will not be accepted here. 

Sure, I got hot, I got tired, I got cranky and so did the family.  But then someone smiles at you and tells you to “Have a magical evening, and thank you for your business.”  My crankiness just disappears.  Sometimes, I wish real life was like that. 

So while I could go on and on and on about my wonderful vacation, I’ll stop there.

I think it is good to be home. 

Mrs. V

Lasting Impressions

8 Apr

Today I recognized a parent of a former student and called her by her name, and asked how her 2 older boys were by their names.  She told me that I was amazing for having remembered all of that.  I thanked her, of course, but as I walked away, I realized I should be thanking her.

I remembered her because she’s a remarkable woman and dedicated mother of 3 young boys.  She endlessly complimented me when I taught her son, and wrote me the most beautiful note at the end of the school year.  She made a wonderful impression on me that has lasted and will last for a long time.

I teach approximately 40 students per year, and I remember their names and their parents’ names during the school year.  Unfortunately, by the next year with 40 new families to become familiar with, some of the old names fade.  Oh, I recognize faces, but the names slip away.   

Impressions, good or bad, will keep some of their names with me.  I always hope for the good impressions, but I also know that there will always be those stories, the ones that made a bad impression, that will keep those names (and faces) with me. 

A few weeks ago I ran into another parent of a former student and this time it was a student who had been a challenge for not one, but two years.  Wow…  No wonder I remembered all of their names.  You’d think that it would be a negative thing, but really the sting of the challenge has faded over time, and I remember that student with a particular fondness.

I know I have one student this year who will leave a lasting impression on me.  Right now it is the challenge that will help me remember the name, but there will always be that special place in my heart that will help me remember this unique child’s name.   

What can I say?  I always fall for the ones I think I can change, but I can’t.   

It’s a miracle that I married a good guy, really it is!

Mrs. V

I needed this laugh today!

7 Apr

This defines how my afternoon went today.  It is probably a good thing that conferences were done before break.  ‘Nough said…

Mrs. V