It was easy to connect with this chapter since it was based upon developing literacy. Most of us are familiar with the correlation between parents who read to/with their children and the child's future success with literacy.  We need to teach parents how easy it can be to spend time reading stories with their children.  Are some parents afraid that they are not doing it "right"?  Our Family Reading Nights are a great venue for modeling simple thought provoking ways to read with children.  The authors say that less educated parents spend more time drilling letter recognition than with conversation and storytelling.  These nights would be valuable to show them that reading and discussing stories has just as much, if not more, value as drilling letter and sound recognition.  Parents can use these story times to not only have bonding conversations/connections with their children, but to also create a base for literacy success in the future.

Nicole and Cindy

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That's a great idea Cindy and Nicole. Something I also do is to put little tips for at-home reading activities on my weekly newsletter. That way parents aren't overwhelmed with too many stategies; just one a week. I think that our student's parents might feel they aren't capable of carrying over learning to the home. Once they realize how simple and easy it can be, they will feel confident that they can make a difference.
I agree with both Nicoles and Cindy that getting parents involved is imperative. Finding ways to close the gap between the have and have-nots (this time speaking about literacy awareness) is a huge challenge. Coming up with creative ways to hook the parents as well as the kids is an important goal!

I also think the section in this chapter about phonological awareness was very thought provoking! Dr. Isabelle Liberman conducted phonological awareness experiments with 4, 5 & 6 year olds. She found that none of the 4 year olds were able to tap out the number of phonemes (sounds) in a one syllable word that were between 1 & 3 phonemes. In Kindergarten, only 17% succeeded in phoneme-tapping and by first grade the number had risen to 70%.

I was shocked that the number was only 17% for Kindergarten children and it has made me stop and think. I struggle trying to make decoding click for many students each year and worry it will make some feel inadequate by pushing to hard. I think developing phon. awareness is crucial and playing games with words and phonemes is absolutely neccessary and beneficial. I am not suggesting that we do not work on these strategies and develop awareness... but I think we need to be mindful that some children are not developmentally ready for some of the activites we would like to introduce and we should strive to work at their developmental level.

"Since phonological awareness is a prerequisite for learning to read, figuring out WHEN children typically develop
this awareness is an important key to understanding what we can do to guide them" pg 106.
I think Jane makes an important point. This book has validated many things we already know about building a strong literacy foundation for children. However, I like very much how clearly the authors delineate the different levels of child development. The example Jane points out of children tapping out the various sounds they hear in a word and the accuracy rate the authors documented according to age groups was startling. I, too, thought that kindergarten children would be further advanced.
I am continually impressed with the authors common sense advice to parents about how to build a strong literacy foundation for their children. In Ruby Payne' s work , there is a discussion about language acquistion and discourse. She points out that one of the biggest differences between people in poverty and the middle class is how they speak. That oft times, children from poverty have a difficult time telling a story or relating an event in a sequential manner. In Paul Tough's book Whatever It Takes, he talks about how stressful poverty can be on adults. That not having enough money, living a transitory lifestyle, and not having employable skills creates an atmosphere of chaos and anger. And, consequently, sitting down and talking with thier child about their day is not a priority. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to get these kids into school as soon as possible, so they can experience a structured enviornment, authentic learning acitivities, and a caring adult community that values the importance of talk.
This chapter would be especially valuable for parents. It reassures parents who are providing their children with meaningful learning experiences, and gives parents who may not be as active in their child’s learning great ways to get involved at home. At the pre-k orientation last year, I remember speaking with a mother who was apprehensive about enrolling her son in the preschool program. She was afraid that he didn’t have the skills of most four year olds. I would have loved to suggest this book to this parent. I think that it might be worth mentioning to all of the parents this year at the preschool orientation meeting.
Lindsey- I like your idea that we suggest this book at Pre-K orientation. I like how this chapter puts emphasis on the simple things that are important aspects of helping children to become readers, such as: making reading fun, reading aloud to young children, building vocabulary through coversation, and taking time to ask & answer questions while reading with children. These are all things that we do in our classrooms everyday, but they are also things that parents can do easiy at home. The authors describe some of the building blocks of reading to be story telling and having a strong vocabulary. These things can be developed through play with young children, before they even know what letter sounds or words mean. I like that the authors point out that literacy occurs gradually and starts well before children actually start school. The importance of having conversations with young children and attending to their interests/ curiosities is stated time and again by the authors as playing a crucial role in the development of so many skills. This is the one thing that we need to get more parents doing on a regular basis- taking to their kids. I think that some parents just don't understand how much of a positive impact this can have on their children.
When looking back on this chapter, I felt that I was making so many connections to our recent in-services that the pre-k teachers attended. During our meeting with Michelle Baltz she reviewed the fundations program but also discussed ways for us to continually incorporate early literacy skills throughout our circle and center time activities. Many of the items she discussed we already do but it was interesting to break down some of those items to better understand their importance and the necessity to repeat and help connect these skills with the children.
In addition to having a better understanding for myself, I also realized how crucial it is for early literacy skills to be should stressed to the parents. I feel that many parents may already have a simple understanding of the importance of reading to their child, but if you offer them more ideas and better explanations for why storytelling is crucial or why building vocabulary is key the likelihood of their child becoming an overall better reader is much greater. Not to mention becoming an overall more confident student that has all the necessary skills to succeed far beyond the early childhood years.
It's so easy for parents to get sucked into the race to achieve more better faster! Speaking as a mom, it can be very difficult to stand your ground and do what you know to be best for your child's development when the messages you hear constantly promise future academic success for your child if you just do x, y, and z. And I think many of our parents truly are well meaning when they drill their kids, instead of just engaging in conversation and reading for fun with them. Parent education is key - and we do our best to give parents resources and opportunities to read and talk to their children. But I suspect that many of these parents may be of the mind that if its not "work" or skill and drill, that it just can't be as valuable as something as fun and easy as talking and spending fun time together! So, I guess we just need to keep up our efforts at parental education and lead by example - showing parents how we value talking with children.
I really enjoyed this chapter. It mainly focused on the preschooler as an emergent reader. I was very encouraged by the fact that we as preschool teachers are approaching the reading process correctly. Our reading program focuses on the phonemic process as explained and illustrated in this chapter. Michele Baltz continues to guide us in the right direction following the same lead as found in this book. I too am finding myself constantly thinking that we must find a way to get this information to our parents. Each chapter so far could be an idea for a theme night!
As I was waiting for my daughters at their music lessons this afternoon (violin and piano), I was struck by how similar learning to read music is to learning to read. And I looked back at the question posed on p. 115 "Is learning letter names important for learning to read?" The author makes the point that picking of letter names for many children is "incidental to the many pre-reading literacy activities they have done. That's whiy it's not clear that teaching letter names by itself . . . will have an impact on reading." (p. 116) I think we are giving our students lots of pre reading literacy activities and going about it in the right way - and it's so similar to the Suzuki method my older daughter used with her teacher when she started violin at 4 years old. Her teacher didn't drill her on note names - she gave her the violin, showed her how to hold it and where to put her fingers, and taught her to play "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." No drilling, no worksheets - play a song! Be successful! And then she gave her a CD to listen to every day. It took her a long time to actually be able to read the notes and name them correctly, but in the meantime she was playing music and loving it. (And now at 9, she can read music perfectly well, and can perform in recitals, etc.) I think we are trying to do the same with developing literacy - giving our students the tools they need (letter names) but doing it "incidentally" by giving them lots of developmentally appropriate activities.

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