Hands Free, Heart Full

Swim

I sat in the shallow end of the pool, shadowing my toddler as I watched my older boys take their turns on the water slide.  We would need to go home soon, so I was calling to each one as they surfaced from their plunge and giving them a 5 minute warning.

One boy, one reminder.  (I could tell a man nearby was watching the exchange.)

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Allowing Children to Bloom in Season

Bloom

My grandmother had a very green thumb.  As my grandfather toiled away at getting alfalfa fields to grow and cows to give milk in a high desert climate, she turned their front yard into an explosion of color and scent.  There were bright California poppies, delicate bleeding heart bushes, a huge swath of daisies, roses that were fuller and brighter than anything at the store, fascinating four o’clocks, little purple pansies (which she loved to sing about), and my favorites: the lilac and snowball bushes.

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First Friday Q&A: What’s the Deal with Public Preschool?

First Friday September 15

First Friday Q&A is back!

Today’s question actually comes from a recent conversation with my dad, who asked, “What’s the deal with public preschool?  Is it really necessary?”

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Quick Thought: Never Stop Playing

Don't Stop Playing Resized

I recently taught a day-long workshop for a fantastic group of early childhood educators on intentional teaching and the power of play.  In preparing for that, I spent a lot of time reading Dr. Stuart Brown’s book,Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul (*affiliate link).

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Savoring a Slow Day When You’re Just Too Busy

Run 2

It’s been quiet here.

Well, it’s been quiet here on the blog.  In my life it’s been a cacophony of power tools, packing tape, and less than happy children.  We recently made it through the all-hands-on-deck phase of getting our home finished and everything moved.  I’ve been grouting, caulking, sanding, and painting.  Packing and unpacking.  All important and very necessary —- but that meant no time for running or writing.  Two of my favorite outlets.  When I’m too busy for those two, I usually find myself with a one-way ticket on the express train to Crazy Town.

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It’s Time to Plan a Playdate with Your Child

Playdate

I was working with some elementary aged children recently, helping them with their Mother’s Day/ Father’s Day writing assignments.  They were all following the same skeleton for their poetry, using personal details to fill in the blank spaces.

One line seemed to snag several of these little authors.

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Be The Best Parent You Can Be

Parent

When my oldest was about 6 months old, he reverted to waking every two hours at night.  I felt like a zombie.

I craved sleep like it was a drug.

Desperate, I went to the library and checked out every book I could find on babies and sleep.  As my husband arrived home from work that day, he found me (semi-conscious, I’m sure) holding our son in the rocking chair surrounded by stacks of books.

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Meaningful Literacy for Early Readers

words have meaning

“The first thing kids should learn about words is that they have meaning.”

That’s what I wrote in a guest post for The Imagination Tree recently.  And it’s true!  While there is plenty of practice that does — and needs to — go on with pieces and parts of words, rearranging letters, and practicing sounds and sight words,  we must remember that with all of that, kids need a strong foundation in using words to receive and send meaning.

We’re really quite fixated on the importance of literacy in education, but if reading isn’t connected to meaning, all we’re teaching kids to do is string a bunch of sounds together.  That’s not literacy.

In this old article  from a 2005 issue NAEYC’s Young Child magazine, Susan Neuman and Kathleen Roskos, leading researchers in the field of early literacy, wrote about the importance of infusing meaning into the literacy experiences of early readers.

In reference to the joint position statement created by NAEYC and the International Reading Association outlining developmentally appropriate practice in literacy instruction, the authors wrote:

“The research-based statement stresses that for children to become skilled readers, they need to develop a rich language and conceptual knowledge base, a broad and deep vocabulary, and verbal reasoning abilities to understand messages conveyed through print.  At the same time, it recognizes that children also must develop code-related skills” (phonological awareness, the alphabetic principle, etc.). 

“But to attain a high level of skill, young children need many opportunities to develop these strands interactively, not in isolation.  Meaning, not sounds or letters, drives children’s earliest experiences with print. Therefore, the position statement points out that although specific skills like alphabet knowledge are important to literacy development, children must acquire these skills in coordination and interaction with meaningful experiences (Neuman, Bredekamp, & Copple 2000).”

How do you create a culture of literacy that is rich in meaning? Here are a few key ideas. Continue reading

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