Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Dental Visits: Words Matter!

Words matter! As teachers and families we can say something that we think may be encouragement, but it may have an unintended consequence. Think about the idea of fractions. Math teachers know that many young children have an aversion to fractions. Some attribute this to asking young children, who are still in the egocentric stage of development, to give away half of a cookie or other treat. This sets some children up to dislike fractions. 

Many children have a fear of the dentist. For some we need to coax them to go, amid tears. See our post here about overcoming fear of the dentist and here detailing ideas how to make dental health fun. In addition, we need to consider how we talk to children about visits to the dentist. 

Often families might say something like this, "You better brush your teeth or you will need to go to the dentist." Consider how this can easily be perceived as something to fear by a child. It sounds like a punishment, doesn't it? 

We can help families understand that giving positive directions equals a more positive attitude. Think about how the above sentence could be changed to, "Wow, I can't wait for your next trip to the dentist. She will be so impressed with your big smile." 

Be sure your words are ones that are reassuring and enthusiastic so children will have a more favorable outlook about their dental appointment. 

This child overcame his fear of the dentist and now looks forward to visits.
Please feel free to share our dental health links with families!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Rewarding Rewards

Stickers, little toys, bits of candy? What can we do to motivate our young learners? It IS more than these types of tangible prizes. We believe that teacher and family excitement is the best way to reward and encourage children. 

Let your face light up with happiness when a child asks you to read a special book. Jump for joy when a letter of the alphabet is said. Use tools like a big hand to clap to celebrate something special in the classroom. These all show a child you value his or her successes.  

Fun "tools" like this, available at party stores, make for excitement in the classroom.

Rather than traditional stickers, use the powerful sense of smell. Make a star on a child's hand with invisible chapstick. The sweet odor will remain for several hours and remind your young learner that you valued an accomplishment. 

Allow children a reward and learning experience at the same time. Give "free passes" to watch real animals in their natural habitats on-line. Websites like Explore.org allow children to view puffins, bears, and even bison. I found letting children see pandas was more powerful than a trip to the prize box. And what fantastic learning takes place, too!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Annotating In An Age-Approriate Way

It is important to help our children get in the habit of "having a conversation" with a book. This can be done in an age-appropriate way. Give children sticky notes with question marks and exclamation points on them. Make a game out of finding the parts that should be thought about again or for sections that children may question. This is the beginning of annotating, a valuable life-long skill we are encouraging in our K-12 classrooms. 

We also like gluing fun pictures on craft sticks. Fireworks can represent a part of a book that was very exciting. Have questions or not quite understand a part of a book? Is it muddy in your mind? Give children a picture of a pig covered in mud. This makes it silly. Admitting something is not well understood was never so much fun! 
Examples of developmentally-appropriate annotations.
Then, remember to go back and engage in dialogue about the sections that children marked. The conversation helps with oral language skills. 

For ELLs:
Looking through material more than once gives children processing time with the language. Rich discussions about parts of books that were unclear, exciting, or worth rereading make for valuable oral language practice.

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC - 2.D.04 & 2.E.04.
Head Start - VII.a. & VIII.B.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Close Reading For the Preschool Set!

When children go to school they will be expected to look closely at text for the deeper meaning. Of course, one read through a text won't help with this higher-order of comprehension. Several readings are necessary. For young children, we can help them to see the value in rereading parts of a book that may have been exciting, meaningful, or even confusing. 

One way to do this to to have families, teachers, and caregivers find parts of a book that contain key details. Watch in the video below how this mom chose specific pages to reread. She asked questions directed at helping the child understand characters and text features. Sharing this type of strategy with families can help children discover the benefits of rereading. 

Stay tuned for more on helping children develop close reading skills!

Standards Alignment:
NAEYC - 2.E.04.
Head Start - VII.A. 1, 3, 4, & 5.