BY BETH PINYERD
This week we enter the National Gratitude Month. This is a time that we can have our children and families focus and express on actions and kindness that we are thankful for. As a teacher, I love this time of the year where children can show true caring in outreach to others.
Driving around Opelika and out into the county, I am awed by the beautiful autumn colors! Even though we have had some drought, the trees are still displaying vibrant colors. Having a fall driving field trip is so much fun for children and families to see in saying thank you to God for what He has provided for us to see.
In the Teacher’s Corner, today is celebrated as “National Author’s Day.” We can all remember our favorite children’s authors. My favorite children’s authors are Margaret Wise Brown, who wrote “Goodnight Moon” and “The Runaway Bunny”; Eric Carle, who wrote “The Grouchy Ladybug” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”; and Beatrix Potter, who wrote “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” and “The Tale of Benjamin Bunny.” There are many other outstanding authors who keep the attention of our children for hours. Maybe one day our children may become authors of children’s books.
When a child is born into the world, he/she begins to communicate needs and to interact. It may be a happy gurgle, excitement, pointing or even crying to communicate needs. Toddlers, twos and threes express themselves through coloring, scribbling, writing, etc. Writing readiness is encouraged in talking and carrying on conversations with children, listening to their questions and guiding them to learn new concepts. When your child reaches 3 to 8 years old, there are many creative ways to encourage him/her to begin to write. I want to share a few ideas that I have seen early childhood teachers and parents of children do to encourage them to enjoy creative writing.
- Have colored markers, chalk, paints, etc. to let children write letters on paper, boards or even sidewalks in an age-appropriate approach for young hands.
- The secret of encouraging children is to listen, spend time with them, prompt them with good ideas and praise them. In early childhood creativity, we educators and parents are focusing on encouraging thought processes and imaginations rather than the grammar rules.
- One language arts project that seems to delight children, as well as their teachers and parents, is to have them narrate their stories which can be written on the board, flip charts, paper or computers. Seeing the words they are saying is good reading and writing readiness.
- You can tell family stories at home or when you are going on a long trip. This is a good time to have your child share his or her ideas with you for developing a story. Activities like these will make the time of travel go a lot faster for the family.
- An easy way for your child to make books is simply to fold several sheets of paper in half and staple the pages together. You can also punch holes on the side, thread yarn through and tie the pages together. Because this book is from their hands and heart it will be such a special memory keeper.
- Children love to make rhymes. This can also lead to a love of poetry they can read, write and illustrate.
- Educators and families are so grateful to local libraries and community in encouraging parents and teachers to help their children to become young authors. I fondly remember as a teacher, one of my second grade classes wrote a collection of short stories with their own illustrations. As a class, we were so very thankful for grant money from the Junior League to collate our short stories into a book with a hard cover. The library invited the class to read their short stories during the reading hour for children. The library shelved the class created book for families to check out the book of class stories to read to their children at home.
- I love the way the teachers in our community celebrate authors and their books with music, simple, child-made costumes and child-made props to perform their favorite books. As classroom observer, I have loved being a part of these book celebration activities. Celebration of books can be done with families and friends, as well.
Today is also celebrated as National Family Literacy Day, which I think is so important in realizing that reading and the joy of books is truly a foundation to open up the mind of the young child to the joy of learning.
I hope these few suggestions will encourage young families to spend time with their young children in reading and celebrating good books.
Beth Pinyerd has taught in the classroom for many years. She holds a master’s degree in early childhood education.