A Media-Rich Curriculum
A study found that preschool children who participated in a media-rich curriculum, that integrated public television, video and games into classroom instruction, develop the early literacy skills critical for success in school. These foundational skills - being able to name letters, knowing the sounds associated with those letters, and understanding basic concepts about stories and print - all increased among the four and five year-olds in the study.
Use of this technology in preschool has been controversial. "Critics argue that television and computers have no role in an active preschool classroom in which teachers seek to create a learning environment that promotes interaction among them and the children. The teachers who participated in this study were asked to engage their children in a range of media-rich literacy activities, from active video viewing to hands-on play with letters, sounds and books.
"This study reports that preschool teachers who implement a curriculum that integrates video content with teacher-led activities can improve their students’ early literacy skills. Given training and support in classroom activities to reinforce the skills presented in the videos, the teachers were able to conduct the curriculum successfully and help their students learn. This is noteworthy because the teachers in the study were similar to many preschool teachers serving low-income communities: They had little prior training in literacy instruction and worked in schools with limited access to curriculum materials of proven effectiveness...
"These results show that digital media, including public television programming and web based games, can support early literacy skills when thoughtfully integrated with teacher-lead interactive activities.”
Whether a child will be attending school or daycare for the first time, returning to the classroom after summer or an extended break can be a tough transition for them on the first day of school or child care. Most children understandably fluctuate between feelings of excitement and apprehension. Their parents may share those same emotions. Here are some ideas that may help.
"* ENCOURAGE PARENTS/GUARDIANS TO STAY BRIEFLY - allow the parents and guardians a place to stay and watch their children for a few moments. Have a pot of coffee and some snacks available, along with some comfortable seating, so that they may help to transition their child to the school setting. (Many local coffee shops would be more than willing to donate packages of coffee and day old donuts or snack bites, provided you pick them up in the morning)" Note, avoid allowing the parents to hover over their child unnecessarily and for a prolonged period of time. Set a time when the day will begin and parents will leave.
"* SING-A-LONG - begin the day with an active sing-a-long, parents and guardians included, that focuses on the day at hand, and any special activities that the day might bring.
"* PICTURE SCHEDULE - have the children, with the help of parents and guardians, as well as the preschool teacher, make up a visual schedule of their day. This can include a picture for saying good-bye to mom or dad, a picture of class work, snack, school work, lunch, activity, and then a picture of going home. This can also include a clock, which can help them to begin to learn the meaning of time.
"* PUT THE ONUS ON THE CHILD - have the preschool student tell you, the teacher, where their parent or guardian has to go, and when they will be back to pick them up. This will give the child some ownership over their day, and they may loosen up a little bit on the death grip they have on the limbs of a loved one.
"* BRING IN A PICTURE OF YOUR FAMILY - a picture of the family unit for each preschool child can adorn their desk, and perhaps they can even do simple crafts for their families. This can keep them thinking about their family, but not being outwardly displaying [sic] their separation anxiety.
"* MAKE THE MORNING FUN - if the preschool child exhibits separation anxiety, the last thing they will want to do is to be dropped off knowing fully well [sic] that there is not one iota of fun to be had. Instead, make the morning as fun as possible. All of the fun activities should be on display, so that the child may be eager to go ahead and forage around the classroom.
"Preschool teachers have to be resilient, and sometimes cannot stick to a daily plan, no matter how hard they try. Preschool children often fly by the seat of their pants, and keeping in tune with all of their whims and fancies can be difficult."
"I know a wonderful secret that will make your nights at school seem as warm and cozy as your days at home." She then kisses his palm, and Chester feels the kiss "rush from his hand, up his arm, and into his heart." Whenever he gets lonely, she advises, he is to press his hand to his cheek and "that very kiss will jump to your face and fill you with toasty warm thoughts."
Here is a preschool activity to ease separation anxiety on the first day of school. Great for orientation day!
You will need the book, The Kissing Hand.
A tale about Chester, a young raccoon who would rather stay at home than go to school. The story is for any child who confronts a difficult situation, and for the child within each of us who sometimes needs reassurance. As it may for youngsters in comparable situations, this "secret" works for Chester, who in turn kisses his mother's palm so that she, too, will be reassured. Ages 3-8.
Read the story The Kissing Hand using a stuffed raccoon animal.
After discussing the story with the children, place a heart sticker on each child's hand. This helps preschool children to remember that Mom or Dad loves them. If they have a problem later in the day, I remind them to look at their sticker and put it up to their cheek.
After the story, have each parent help their child make a hand print and then make one of theirs on the same paper. The children and the parents enjoy it! Post them in the hallway for parents to admire.