Welcome to Kindergarten – May 5, 2015

Another day, another school visit! ‘Tis the season, after all.

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It was a lovely day for a short walk down to a local school annex. Once again the faithful folding trolley was put to good use, filled with books and pamphlets (and a water bottle – always bring a full water bottle to school visits!!).

School annexes in my city serve grades K-3 (rather than K-7), and are lovely little neighborhood schools.

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I was invited to share a mini story time with the incoming kindergarteners and their families, but only had about 15 minutes in which to do so. I was originally scheduled for 20 minutes, but as usual, preschoolers don’t quite grasp the importance of sticking to schedules! 🙂

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Given this condensed time frame, it was time to bring out the heavy hitters!

The group had already sat through several speakers by the time I took to the stage, so the kids were getting pretty squirrely. I busted out one of my all-time, never-lets-me-down favourites, Bark, George.

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As usual, it brought the house down. Love, love, love this book!!!! You just can’t go wrong with animal noises. Simple, simple text with a hilarious ending. Love.

I also used “The Elevator Song” and “Here we go a marching”, which is a nice way to introduce a basic ASL sign (for stop). The kids enjoyed the Elevator Song so much that the school’s kindergarten teacher emailed me afterwards to get the words – here are two of my colleagues singing it!

I’m finished with Welcome to Kindergarten visits for this season, so now it’s on to Summer Reading Club promotional visits and summer community events. I’ve been so busy I can hardly keep up with blogging all the events I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of – life is so good!

Welcome to Kindergarten – May 9, 2015

This week I attended a WTK at a local public Montessori elementary. The school had a bit of a unique WTK format in that children and caregivers were separated, with adults gathering in the library to listen to several presentations, and their children being looked after by their future kindergarten teacher in another room.

I set upselkirk1 a small display featuring some of my favourite children’s books, together with some pamphlets and brochures. Then I talked a bit about some ways that caregivers can inspire their children to become passionate life-long readers.

I mentioned the original “three Cs” , Choice, Cuddles, and Conversation, and added my own “C”, Consistency. I urged caregivers to make reading a regular part of their every day routines – reading consistently with children can help make reading feel as natural a part of their routine as brushing their teeth! Reading consistently can also help prevent children from associating reading strictly with school work or assignments, which can unfortunately turn many children away from books entirely.

Modelling is also an important part of raising confident readers – if children see their parents reading, and enjoying reading, it can help them view reading as a positive, valuable activity. Novels, cookbooks, magazines, newspapers, tablets, e-readers – it doesn’t matter what you read, as long as you do it regularly, you enjoy it, and you share that enjoyment with your kids!

Although it was only a brief presentation, it was still a great opportunity to connect with local teachers and teacher-librarians and meet parents in the community!

“Welcome to Kindergarten” – Some take-aways

Last week I attended a training workshop for teachers new to the “Welcome to Kindergarten” (WTK) program. WTK is an orientation for families with children who are about to start kindergarten.  In the words of the non-profit organization The Learning Partnership,

Our Welcome to Kindergarten™ program helps prepare pre-kindergarten children for a positive start to their school journey. Parents/caregivers and their children attend orientation sessions at their neighbourhood school where they receive early learning and literacy resources, and learn how to use them at home. The orientation helps create the foundation for positive relationships between parents, teachers and community agencies that sets the stage for a smooth transition to school and future success.

The Welcome to Kindergarten program is a unique parent engagement strategy that brings together parents, children, schools and community service agencies to achieve the goal of giving parents/caregivers the strategies, resources and all the support necessary to make early learning activity and play a priority in the home – to prepare the child for a fun and successful first year in school.

I will be participating in several WTKs this spring, and was very curious to learn more about this exciting program. Here are a few interesting nuggets that I took away from the workshop (along with some largely unrelated and potentially confusing photographs for visual appeal):

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  • 1 in 4 Canadian children start kindergarten without being fully prepared, which puts them at risk of not getting the most out of their school experience.

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  • Parents and caregivers are a child’s first and most important teachers. As educators and literacy specialists, our role is to support caregivers and provide them with the tools and resources they need to succeed.

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  • Play! Children learn best through play, both structured and unstructured. Unfortunately, play can be seen as frivolous or unimportant, when it is actually one of the most important parts of a child’s development.

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  • Supporting early literacy doesn’t have to be complicated, or expensive. Playdough can easily be made from common household ingredients, picture books can be borrowed for free from the library, and scrap paper and crayons can help build the finger control and coordinatoin needed for writing.

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  • The world is a classroom! Cooking dinner can be an opportunity to explore math through measurement, while a walk through the park can introduce nature, the seasons and more. Every moment can be a teachable moment!

I left the workshop feeling super inspired, energized and ready to go! Early literacy is my passion, and I’m so thankful that I get the opportunity to work in this exciting, rewarding and meaningful field!