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Posts Tagged ‘Reading’

Should Your Child Be Reading by Now?

Family reading with young child

By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Parents are very concerned during these days of virtual learning or limited school time with what their children are actually learning. This is especially true of parents of preschoolers and kindergarteners. They are asking, “Should my child be reading by now?  Should my child know numbers and be able to count?”

Put away the flashcards, and relax.  Children begin learning letters, numbers and shapes at varying times. You may find a toddler who can name all the letters in the alphabet and a four-year old who does not seem interested at all. How they demonstrate these recognition skills will vary from child to child. The natural curiosity of most children between the ages of three and four will begin to nudge them into pointing out letters and naming them or counting a few items and naming the numbers.

Here are five easy, fun and stress-free things to do to support your children’s learning:

  1. Read to your children every day, and they will begin to make the connections between letters on a page, sounds and meaning.
  1. Sing together. The alphabet song is a classic that helps children make connections to letters and sounds.
  1. Count out loud as you are setting the table, or count the few steps you take from room to room. Have your children join in the fun.
  1. Play the I spy game with the letters of your children’s first names. Try saying, “I spy something that begins with the letter S.”
  1. Put some sand or rice on a tray, and encourage your children to make letters in the sand. This helps support early writing skills.

Most children will recognize letters, numbers and shapes by age five. They may be starting to write their own names. If your children are not, it is fine. If you feel they are truly struggling, and then you may seek help with an assessment. Remember, children learn at their own paces. Research does not say that the earlier children learn these things, the more advanced they will be later in school. Enjoy this time with your children, and have fun talking, reading and singing together.

 

Learning and Appreciating Cultures during the Holidays

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By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

A good place to begin a dialogue with young children about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is through reading stories. It is especially important to engage young children with stories of people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Stories help children extend their understanding of familiar emotions and social behaviors by presenting them in new contexts, and they provide opportunities for children to encounter emotions and social behaviors that they may not be exposed to in their everyday interactions within their families and communities. Sharing stories of how different families celebrate their holidays will help children learn more about their community and the world.

The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board has five favorites to help you begin:

Walk This World at Christmastime by Debbie Powell

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We love this beautifully illustrated book that shares family traditions around the world. It is a great book, and your little ones will enjoy exploring each page as well as counting down the days with the interactive calendar built into the book.

Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park and illustrated by Ho Baek Lee

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A little girl is excited to make a traditional Korean dish and share it with her extended family.  Your children will love learning about the ingredients and the fun this family shares. It may encourage you to get in the kitchen together and make some bee-bim bop.

N Is for Navidad by Susan Middleton Elya and Merry Banks, illustrated by Joe Cepeda

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You and your children will read this colorful and inviting story over and over again.  The book helps children explore a holiday in Spanish. Children can learn new words while following the alphabet and discovering wonderful traditions.

Amazing Peace by Maya Angelou, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

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The entire community comes together with the hope of peace for all as Maya Angelou’s beautiful poem comes to life in this book. It’s perfect to share with the whole family at bedtime or during a quiet time after dinner.

Winter Candle by Jeron Ashford, illustrated by Stacey Schuett

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Children will be curious about the lump of wax and the light from the candles in the small community of one apartment building. The story shares the hopes of the multicultural residents and how they celebrate their holidays. This story always brings joyful tears to my eyes.

We hope you enjoy these wonderful stories as much as we do, and happy holidays!

Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member Lee Scott’s Favorite Children’s Books

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By Lee Scott
Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Trying to narrow down all the books to my top three is a difficult task. I love children’s literature and how it is one of the best learning tools we have. I have always said, “Give me a great book and some recycled materials, and I can teach from that book for a week.” That approach is the foundation for The Goddard School Life Lesson Library. We have so many wonderful stories to choose from that were submitted by Goddard faculty members across the country. However, since the task is to narrow it down to three, here it goes.

The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord and Janet Burroway. I love this story, not just because it was written and wonderfully illustrated by my amazing cousin John, but also because it is an original “it takes a village” story. Everyone works together to solve a problem using their unique skills and talents. It is a story of overcoming a fear and of collaboration, engineering, humor and creativity. You truly can teach from this book for a week.

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The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. This book is now a classic tale of hope and belief. It also teaches the consequences of good and bad behaviors. My husband read this to our boys every Christmas. Even though they are grown, we still put the book out every year. The other part of this story is the wonderment at the engineering, science and technology in Santa’s village. I also love how the story emphasizes caring for others and appreciating the uniqueness of each person. There is a lot one can learn from this book.

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One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey. Since I’m from Maine, this is one of my favorite stories, and I have enjoyed all of McCloskey’s award-winning books for years. Although written many years ago, this tale is still relevant today. Sal learns to overcome losing a tooth, explores the world around her and becomes creative as she plays along the coast of Maine. I also appreciate big sister Sal helping her little sister Jane. It is a fairly long story for little ones, so I recommend reading it in parts.

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Why You Should Be Reading WITH Your Child and Not TO Your Child

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by Kyle Pruett, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Three-quarters of middle-class parents read to their preschool children at least five days a week. To many, it’s as important and routine as personal hygiene. Yet many parents need encouragement to keep at it because their children don’t always seem tuned in to the activity. Parents believe that regular reading leads to higher reading – and eventually writing – achievement, and research supports them, just as it supports their belief that it engenders positive attitudes toward reading as an activity and as a motivator in learning to read. However, a parent reading to you is not the same as a parent reading with you. Shared reading (sometimes called lap reading), where the parent and child engage together in a conversation about how to understand and mutually enjoy what is on the printed page with the ultimate goal of turning the printed word into its spoken counterpart belongs to the larger and more productive world of family literacy where language is taught wherever and whenever it matters. It starts with joint attention to illustrations and leads straight to phonemic awareness of what is in print. 

Here are my favorite reasons to read with your child every day: 

  • Literacy promotion  From tactile books to first chapter books, parents can edit and customize the text to fit the child’s interest, mood and curiosity about what is on the page. That is how they support the child’s innate interest in the printed symbols we use to capture meaning and intent in our written communication; 
  • Focused social interaction – As the child sits on the parent’s lap, the parent feels the child settle, become alert, get bored, get back up and lean in, which is all part of the reciprocal conversation the child and parent have in the moment. This serveandreturn learning is the favorite of the growing brain, which prefers it over other kinds of stimulation because being connected emotionally and synaptically allows the parent to use that information to tune in precisely to what interests the child about what’s on the page; 
  • Intimacy – The physical and emotional closeness of shared reading and attention lowers levels of stress hormones (especially in the grown-up) and settles down both generations. Try to name a healthier moment of the parent’s day; 
  • Entertainment– The delight that comes with the turn of the page, the echoing of an intentional sound, the desire to repeat a particular page, the search for a favorite illustration or the closing of the book with a slap (our son’s favorite) all guarantee shared enjoyment for a few moments of every day; 
  • Stimulating cognitive growth – In those first thousand days, the brain grows faster than it ever will again, and regular manageable intellectual stimulation encourages the growth of connections between the parts of the brain responsible for memory, emotion, problem-solving, thinking and behavior regulation. Shared reading reaches across each of these growth centers, connecting them for good. 

Five Ways to Help Your Child Develop Pre-Reading Skills Early

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by Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

I remember a child in the third grade looking up at me and saying, “If you can’t read, you can’t do anything.” She was an adorable redhead, eager to learn and very curious about everything.   

We often think of learning to read in the early years as learning the alphabetrecognizing the letters, understanding the sounds the letters make and putting sounds together to make words. The most critical element in learning to read, however, is comprehension. It is the ability to understand and analyze what is being read. It is the joy within reading.  

Students with poor reading comprehension skills struggle not just in reading but also in every other subject and in reallife situations. Fortunately, young children can begin to develop comprehension skills even before they learn to read. When your infant is babbling while holding a book, those noises have meaning as the child looks at the familiar images. Early scribbling is a child’s way of telling a story on paper. All of these early skills and experiences lay the foundation for all later learning. 

Whave gathered five ideas for how to help your children develop those pre-reading skills early. 

  • Attend local plays, story hour at the library or puppet shows. 
  • While reading the story, ask thoughtprovoking questions. “Why do you think Goldilocks went into the bears house?” “What could she have done instead?” Talking about the story while reading it helps make a stronger connection to the story for your children.  
  • Before you open a book, look at the cover. Ask your children what the story might be about based on the picture on the front of the book. 
  • Make simple stick puppets related to a favorite book or fairy tale. Help your children roleplay the story. Point out that the story has a beginning, middle and end.  
  • Read nonfiction books that relate to your child’s interests. Children especially love books about animals, the outdoors and people. 

You can also get out crayons and paper and each draw pictures of the characters in the story. Find a few minutes each day for reading, and not only will it help your children’s development but it will also create special moments for your family.   

Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member Helen Hadani’s Favorite Children’s Books

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By Helen Hadani, Ph.D.
Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

My two daughters are now teenagers, but I still remember our overflowing bookshelves filled with picture books and stories that my husband and I read to our children more times than we care to remember. Here are three of my favorites: 

  • Hug (Jez Alborough) – This sweet picture book was a favorite in our house for many years. Bobo, a baby monkey, is in desperate need of a hug and visits his animal friends one by one, imploring, “Hug” with a sweet and puzzled expression. Time after time, he is turned away, so he continues his journey through the jungle. The book contains only three words – “hug, Bobo and mommy. The magic of the story is in the endearing expressions of the animals and the touching ending when Bobo finally gets a hug from his mommy. Since there are few words in the book, you tell the story a bit differently every time, and as children get older, they start to tell some of the story themselves;  

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  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (Mo Willems) – It is hard to pick a favorite Mo Willems book, but this one holds many special (and funny) memories for me. I can still remember my youngest daughter Grace yelling, “Noooo!” at the top of her lungs while reading this book (at bedtime, no less). The book starts with a bus driver asking your child to keep an eye on things while he’s gone and, most importantlydon’t let the pigeon drive the bus! The very clever and persuasive pigeon then tries to bribe and persuade your child to let him drive the bus. Lastly, he resorts to throwing an all-out tantrum and yells, “LET ME DRIVE THE BUS!” It’s such an engaging book that turns the tables and puts your child in charge; 

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  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Judith Viorst) – When my husband and I met, I remember him telling me that this was one of his favorite children’s books. I had, of course, read it as a child and remembered liking it, but it wasn’t until I started to read it to our daughters Ruby and Grace that I came to appreciate the message. Alexander wakes up with gum in his hair, and that is just the start of his very bad day. Everyone has bad days, and it often made me feel better reading this story to our girls so they knew why Mom or Dad might have been short with them or just out of sorts. It also helped to read the book when I knew that one (or both) of them had had a particularly challenging day. Also, the part about “third-best-friend status” always made us laugh.  

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Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member Jennifer Jipson’s Favorite Children’s Books

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By Jennifer Jipson, Ph.D.

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

I delight in collecting picture books that teach, inspire, entertain and motivate. March is both National Reading Month and Women’s History Month, so I’ll share a few books that celebrate women’s accomplishments and inspire little ones to do big things. I hope you and your children enjoy these as much I do.

  • My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? by Jennifer Fosberry and Mike Litwin – In this book, Isabella imagines herself to be famous women throughout history, such as Sally Ride, Marie Curie and Rosa Parks. As you read it with your child, you will learn about how these women changed the world in their own unique ways. This is achieved with a story that is filled with humor, clever writing and engaging illustrations that provide clues about who Isabella will pretend to be next. My well-worn copy of this book is evidence of how much my family delighted in Isabella’s enthusiasm for the extraordinary achievements of women. As a developmental psychologist, I feel good that I exposed my children to role models who counteract racial and gender stereotypes;

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  • The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds – In The Dot, readers meet Vashti, a fictional young girl who is self-critical and thinks she can’t draw. One day, her teacher encourages her to make a dot with a pencil on a blank page, asks her to sign it and then frames and displays it. Her teacher’s support sparks Vashti’s confidence in her own creativity, and she goes on to paint more and more dots in increasingly innovative ways. Vashti embraces her newly unleashed creativity and inspires other children to do the same. In addition to highlighting a valuable lesson about overcoming insecurities, this book inspires children to engage in creative activities. Many schools celebrate Dot Day in which children make and display their own versions of dot paintings. At my house, our refrigerator once became a dot gallery that showcased and celebrated the creativity of our family members;

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  • Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed and Stasia Burrington – This picture book tells the story of Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to go to space. It’s an inspiring story about how Mae pursued her dream of becoming an astronaut even when others teased her or doubted her abilities. The message of staying true to yourself and persisting in achieving your goals is powerful. Another reason that I love this book is because it provides a compelling example of a woman who overcame racial and gender stereotypes to achieve her dream. Families can use this book as an opportunity to talk about prejudice and to bring to light the achievements of women of color in the sciences. Research in child development shows that openness to exploring these topics is of critical importance in helping children develop positive attitudes about diversity, yet only about 10% of families have these conversations. There are many online resources available that can help guide parents in talking about race with children.

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10 Valentine’s Day Books That Teach Kids How Wonderful It is to Love

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Because February 14 is so much more than red hearts and candy.

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and like every other holiday season, it’s the perfect time to captivate your kids through stories of delight. From tales about robotic romantic adventures, to a whimsical story about secret letters, these heartwarming books will teach your child about the many ways to express love, especially amongst family and friends.

I’ll Love You Till the Cows Come Home, by Kathryn Cristaldi and Kristyna Litten

Love knows no bounds in this delightful read aloud that sends cows to Mars and has sheep steering ships. Fun wordplay and a rhyming refrain will soon have little ones chiming in. Perfect for Valentine’s Day or saying I love you any time of year. Ages 4-8 ($15, amazon.com).

I Love You, Little Pookie, by Sandra Boynton


I Love You, Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton

With an affectionate tale and funny drawings, this book is ideal for little ones.

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Bestselling author Sandra Boynton is back with a new board book, just in time for the holiday of love. Little Pookie is one of Boynton’s most beloved characters and he is reassured over and over as mom tells him just how much she loves him on nearly every sturdy page. Ages 2-5 ($6, amazon.com).

Robot in Love, by T. L. McBeth


Robot in Love by T. L. McBeth

A robot love story with a splash of color that’ll surely catch your child’s eye.

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It’s love at first sight in this playful picture book about a robot who spots his soulmate, loses her and then finds her again. Love can look different for every one of us, and in this case the robot’s object of affection is a shiny toaster with whom he discovers various shared interests. Including toast. Very sweet! Ages 4-8 ($13, amazon.com).

The Littlest Things Give the Loveliest Hugs, by Mark Sperring and Maddie Frost


The Littlest Things Give the Loveliest Hugs, by Mark Sperring and Maddie Frost

Nothing is cuter than a snuggly tale from your favorite animals.

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Bright and colorful, this picture book celebrates hugs across the animal world. From snuggly seals to beetle bug hugs, these little critters are all happy to be with their families, sharing an embrace. Warm, rhyming text opens the door for telling our own little ones how much their hugs mean to us. Ages 3-6 ($13, amazon.com).

How Do I Love Thee? by Jennifer Adams and Christopher Silas Neal


How Do I Love Thee? by Jennifer Adams and Christopher Silas Neal

A sweet ode to beloved friends and family.

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A delightful reimagining of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Sonnet 43” with its famous opening lines, as a trio of children explore their world and the love of friends and family around them. Christopher Silas Neal’s illustrations carry the poetry of Browning’s words beautifully. A book to keep … Ages 4-8 ($16, amazon.com).

Love, Z, by Jessie Sima


Love, Z by Jessie Sima

Home is where the heart is in this adorable adventure.

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A mysterious message in a bottle and the young robot who finds it spark a remarkable exploration of what love means, and all the ways we can express love for one another. Charming and uplifting, this picture book is a joy to read and share all year round, and especially for Valentine’s Day. Ages 4-8 ($13, amazon.com).

Duck and Hippo The Secret Valentine, by Jonathan London and Andrew Joyner


Duck and Hippo The Secret Valentine, by Jonathan London and Andrew Joyner

This heartfelt story teaches kids about kindness and sharing.

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It wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without valentines! A humorous story of secret valentines and speculation that culminates in a delightful heart-filled celebration where everyone is welcomed. An entertaining holiday read aloud. Ages 3-7 ($14, amazon.com).

Mirabel’s Missing Valentines, by Janet Lawler and Olivia Chin Mueller


Mirabel's Missing Valentines by Janet Lawler and Olivia Chin Mueller

A spark of unexpected kindness can bring the best of joy in this story.

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Giving Valentine’s Day cards to classmates can be scary, and Mirabel the mouse is so nervous that she accidentally drops some of her cards on the way to school. Her mistake brings some folks unexpected moments of joy thinking the cards were meant for them. A sweet story about how a small kindness can make a big difference for others and ourselves. Ages 3-7 ($12, amazon.com).

A Caboodle of Cuddles, by Roger Priddy


A Caboodle of Cuddles by Roger Priddy

A visually captivating book with raised pictures for your child to check out on every page.

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Perfect for tiny hands to explore, this board book about cuddles and families has bright, raised illustrations that fit together for lots of interactive fun. A Valentine’s Day treat for little ones. Ages 1-3 ($8, amazon.com).

A Hug is for Holding Me, by Lisa Wheeler and Lisk Feng


A Hug Is for Holding Me by Lisa Wheeler and Lisk Feng

Your child’s curiosity will surge as they explore the meaning of hugs in this lyrical tale.

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A unique way of looking at nature, where hugs can be found nearly everywhere if we know how to look. A nest can be a hug in a tree, a seashell is a hug in the sea; each page is thoughtful and will help little ones see their world in a whole new way. Interspersed between the pages about nature are all the things a hug between this father and daughter mean to them: safety, home, love. A tender tribute to the humble hug. Ages 3-5 ($11, amazon.com).

 

This article was written by Seira Wilson of Amazon.com from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How to Develop Your Child’s Social-Emotional Learning Skills Through Literature

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By Lee Scott

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

“The early years of life provide the foundation for what is to come in terms of social, intellectual, and moral development. A child’s capacity to think out problems, built from ‘lived experience’ is indicative of social skills, moral reasoning, and intelligence,” writes Darcia Narvaez. This is a critical time for ensuring a strong foundation for what many call the “essential skills,” as social and emotional learning is shown to support the development of attitudes and skills that impact lifelong academic performance and interpersonal skills.

You will find that one effective method to help your children develop these skills is through reading high-quality literature. The stories help children extend their understanding of familiar emotions and social behaviors by presenting them in new contexts, as well as providing opportunities for your children to encounter emotions and social behaviors that they may not be exposed to in their everyday interactions. The characters within each story give children a framework for developing many essential social skills – cooperation, collaboration, listening and taking turns. For example, connections to characters such as Curious George, Sesame Street characters and classics (e.g., The Three Little Pigs, The Little Red Hen) help children learn about how things work and how people react to different situations while they are building vocabulary and developing emotional literacy.

Here are 10 of our favorite books that you and your children will enjoy while learning valuable social and emotional lessons on friendship, collaboration, fears, mistakes, risk-taking, resilience and more:
1. Me First (Laugh-Along Lessons) by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
2. The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord
3. The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
4. Oh My Baby, Little One by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Jane Dyer
5. Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg
6. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
7. The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton
8. My Mouth Is a Volcano! by Julia Cook and Carrie Hartman
9. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
10. Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley

Four Steps to Creating a Beautiful Children’s Library in Your Home

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When it comes to your home, every child’s personal library should be a happy place to retreat to. Refreshing your child’s library space isn’t a lengthy process, and it can be done quickly. If your child’s library is collecting dust or is simply needing a makeover, try these four tips to start building a beautiful children’s library right in your own home.

Clean out the clutter. A fresh start is often the best way to inspire a new vibe to your reading area at home. Remove all the books from the shelf and start to sift through them. Divide the books into two piles, books your children read often and ones they do not read often. You can toss out the books your children have outgrown or never touched; put them in a bag and donate them or give them to family or friends.

Always add new books to your children’s collection. Board books, concept books, fairy tales, picture books, rhythmic books and early readers. Figure out what you don’t have and explore from there. Make sure you have an assortment of various books so you can build a multifaceted collection for your children. Try to incorporate pieces that have a range of difficulty levels, an assortment of genres and a diversity of cultures and authors. In this way, when one of your children is in the mood for a different type of book to read, there will be many options.

Make their library fun and inviting with a warm atmosphere. Consider relocating the library to a place where it will get the most use. Whether it’s in their bedroom, playroom or family room, you want your children to be able to feel they can easily access their home library and stay a while. Motivate them to search and grab by putting books low on the shelf or at their eye level so they can take books easily and often. Don’t forget to create a reading nook with a comfy chair, bean bag or a soft rug for an inviting space for them to lounge and hang out once they have found books to delve into.

Continue to nurture the collection and reading space. As your children grow, continue to keep their library relevant, up to date and aesthetically pleasing. Clean out and add new books as their interests and reading levels change over time. Continue to add to their collection. Don’t be afraid to swap out old furniture, artwork and decor to keep them interested and curious. You always want to keep them fascinated about exploring their space. Sometimes rearranging and adding a few great books is all that’s needed.