preschool teachers

Encouraging Writing Through Read-Alouds

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Read Aloud time is my all-time favorite time of the day.

Maybe it is because I like to read in dramatic voices, or maybe it is because I love watching little ones fall in love with stories and authors... whatever the reason-  Read Aloud Time is very important to me!

While going through my Master's training, I learned about using reading to encourage writing.

If you stop and think about it, a read-aloud is just reading someone else's writing.

Even young children can be writers!  They can create their own stories and books through drawing and developmental writing.

Our little ones are most likely not reading themselves, but they are hearing us read.  They are gaining knowledge about text, writing and authors through us.

But, helping children learn about what it is to be a writer is not as simple as just reading a book to a child or class of children.

We teach our children how to be readers and writers through our reading alouds.
We have to remind ourselves to stop, ask questions, wonder aloud and point out not-so-obvious things to children.

What should early childhood teachers be helping children learn about authors and illustrators?  How can it be done through a read-aloud?

Check out this quick guide to help your littlest writers see their potential as story and content creators :

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Free Read Aloud Guide

Want to get even deeper into young children being authors?  Check out the book, Already Ready, Nurturing Young Writers in Preschool and Kindergarten by Katie Wood Ray and Matt Glover.


Ditching the Paper Newsletter

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Raise your hand if you send a newsletter to parents!
{raising my hand}

The importance of communication is huge.
If we want parents to work with us, we must communicate what is going on in the classroom.  Newsletters help us do just that.

In the past, I always created a newsletter on the computer, printed it out and send it home.  I also send the pdf in an email to parents.

It seemed to work at time.  Parents knew what was going on in the classroom.

Then, the last couple of years, this seemed to change.

I was hearing more and more parents saying, 'oh, I didn't read that' or 'i didn't know today was picture day'.

It wasn't for lack of trying.  I had sent the info home on paper and in pdf form in a email.

They just weren't opening it.  They weren't opening the backpack and finding the paper nor were they opening the pdf newsletter in their email.

It dawned on me why this might be...

Our society now is busiest it has ever been.  No one can keep up.  If I want our classroom information to be read by parents- I had to make it as quick and easy as possible.  So, I thought about how I like to receive info. It definitely wasn't in paragraph form.  Nor, was it in a pdf that I had to open on my phone.  So, I crafted an email that I myself would read easily.

Here's what I now do instead:
I put everything in email form.  I don't attach a pdf of the newsletter.  I just bullet point everything. This makes our news easy to scan.  I also bold and underline the stuff I do not want them to miss.

Yes, it's working.

This year, I relied on this type of newsletter and thus far and I have not had any uninformed parents.  It's been awesome.  But, I am aware that sometimes, we as teachers, run into a parent that just isn't going to engage no matter what we do.  But, hey... at least I tried!

Bonus... this bullet-pointed newsletter is much easier for me to write up.  Plus, I don't feel like it is a waste of time because it is actually getting read!

What types of things I include:

  • Upcoming Events: this is the first thing on my bullet-point newsletter.  I want to make sure my families are seeing these events (if nothing else)

  • New/On-Going Points of Importance: things like conference sign up, items we need in the classroom or reminders (like making sure the kids have gloves)

  • Current Theme: I layout our current theme and I bullet point some of the books we will read, activities we will do and center changes.

  • Ask your child...: Many parents mention how getting information about the school day is hard to do.  So, include an 'Ask your child' section with a question they can ask their child to spark conversations about the day. For example, 'Ask your child about the gingerbread cookie experiment we did.'

  • At Home: Here is a great place to bullet point 2-3 things that parents can help their child with at home.  It many be academic or simple self help skills.

Do you use newsletters?  Have you found simplicity is the way to go?

Share your opinion in this Facebook Post.

An Open Letter to those Who Think we Play All Day

“Oh, you’re a preschool teacher? That must be so fun getting to play with little kids all day!”

This is a statement preschool teachers hear a lot. Leading us to believe that we are just glorified babysitters (I for one, have never sat on a baby- so, there’s that).

The world sees early childhood teachers as kid wrangling (okay, we do that), snot-wiping (yeah, we do that too), boo-boo kissing (fine, yes…that too) adults pretending to be real educators.

We just play all day… right?

Oh, dear sweet society… you are so wrong.

Let me throw a little research your way….

Data compiled by the Rauch Foundation found that 85 percent of the brain is developed by the age of five years old.

5 years old, which is before students even enter a traditional school setting.

Early Childhood Professionals (aka- preschool teachers) know a lot about this. While it may seem like we are putting out some toys, singing the ABCs and do arts and crafts… we are actually crafting a space and experiences that allow children to explore. When children explore, children learn.

Those that work with the youngest of children (arguable) are the best at understanding and encouraging learning through the way the brain was intended. Through play and exploration. Who sets up these experiences for exploration? We do. We plan, prep and execute. There is thought and purpose behind everything we do. There is no just putting out some toys and hoping for the best.

Our knowledge of child development guides our plans. We have goals for our students, we collect and use data. We aren’t just winging it. But, we also know how to be flexible and creative- because let’s be honest… when working with little humans not everything goes as planned!

But, it is not all about academics. We teach so many social skills that people in general need to be successful. No, hitting William because he took your toy is not a good way to handle the situation. When you are a grown-up, it is called assault. Instead we teach children how to handle those situations now. Oh, and don’t get me started on coat zipping, pants buttoning or snack opening… someone has to teach those things - parents and preschool teachers!

You see, we are on the front lines. We are the first school-like experience children have. We are the groundwork (your welcome Kindergarten teachers). We work to instill a life-long love of learning…talk about a lot of pressure!

Preschool teachers are the unsung heroes of the education world.

But, truthfully… it isn’t about us.

It is about the children.

Preschool teachers everywhere aren’t doing the job because it pays- we do it because we love it. We do it because we get to see the growth of a child right in front of our eyes. It is our passion.

So, the next time you hear someone say “Oh, those preschool teachers just play all day” - serve them up a little knowledge on the subject. The world and our children in it will be better for it.

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