Power up to readingThe preschool classroom is a literacy enriched environment.  Chairs, doors, bins, cubbies, tables, shelves are labeled with words.  Book shelves are filled with fiction and non-fiction literature.  Science tables are labeled with the latest gems that the teachers have displayed.  Books are read to the children individually, in small groups and at circle time.
A minimum of three books are read to your child each day he/she is in attendance.  The content of the books are carried into free play and expounded upon with the theme of the day.  Why are the classrooms literature based?  Research has proven that the single most important determinate of your child’s success in school is whether or not they have been read to at an early age.  Picture book reading provides children with many of the skills that are necessary for school readiness:  increased vocabulary, understanding that print has meaning, the structure of stories and language, the ability to have a sustainable attention span, that there is a direct correspondence between letters and sounds,  the pleasure of learning, and on and on.  Preschoolers need food, shelter, love; they also need the nourishment of books.
While the simple act of reading to your child is an absolute, I thought it would be appropriate to share a few tips that our teachers use in the classroom to enhance the reading experience and to further your child’s kindergarten readiness skills.
1. Read the Title, Author’s Name and Illustrator’s Name  It is important for children to become familiar with what these three things mean.  Explain that the author is the person that wrote the book and the illustrator made the pictures.  If your child has a favorite author, make him/her aware that the same person wrote more than one book.  Lay them down in front of your child and talk about how they are the same and different.
2. Ask Your Child to Make Predictions  As you read to your child, stop now and then and ask your child what they think will happen next.  Make predictions with them.  Model that it is okay to make a prediction that is incorrect.
3. Allow Your Child to Look at the Illustrations  The illustrations not only tell the story along with the print, but add expression to the characters.  You and your child may find that the illustrator added clues as to what is about to happen.  Jill Barton does wonderful illustrations for In the Rain with Baby Duck.  The grim expressions on Baby Duck’s face, the hump of his shoulders as he walks, Grampa asking him to find the green bag in the attic are a few of my favorite spots to stop and engage your child.  Just a Daydream by Mercer Mayer will be read to the children next week during our Superhero Day.  On each page, a mouse can be found hiding somewhere.  Children love looking for the mouse as each page is turned.
4. Ask Questions  When you have finished reading the story, ask your child questions.  Why do you think the ladybug was grouchy?  Do you remember who came to the door first?  The goal is to engage your child in the story.
5. Reread the Same Books Again and Again  Children love to read the same book over and over again.  They love the rhythm and predictability of the story.  When they can repeat the book with you, they feel empowered as emergent readers.
6. Read With Expression  Reading with expression engages your child and invites them into the story.  Remember that reading to your child should be fun for both you and your child.
Encouraging a home/school connection, the HUMC Preschool staff has decided to make a few changes to our programming.  We are pulling our resources; hence we are canceling the Art Show and reformatting VIP Night.  VIP Night will now be referred to as Family Night.  You will be receiving invitations on Monday and Tuesday of next week inviting your entire family to enjoy an evening at the preschool.  Family Night will run in conjunction with the Scholastic Book Fair.  The scheduled nights will be March 12 and 13th.
Even more exciting than Family Night is the start of The Superhero Reading Challenge which will begin Monday.  We are asking that you read to your child daily for the remainder of the school year.  Your child will receive incentives after reading 25, 50 and 75 books.  A brand new book will be given to your child after they have completed 100 books.  It is fine to log the same book over and over, especially if it is a favorite. To launch the challenge, we will have a superhero theme on Monday and Tuesday, with fun activities planned for your child.  They will be given a log to write down the names of the books they have read, as well as a superhero pledge card.  We are really excited and have been planning for weeks. We hope that your family will have lots of cuddle time, curled on the couch with a few good books.
Robin Ozbolt