Word Gap

Preschool Reading Book Wish List

Preschool Reading Book Wish List 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

Way to Grow Preschool teachers compiled this list of preschool reading books essential to any little one’s library. You will recognize many of these preschool reading books as early childhood favorites. Unfortunately, we know many of the children in our program lack access to these books and many like them. We also know that a pathway to success begins by ensuring every young person has access to books from the moment they are born. In response to this need, insurance professionals attending the 2016 SITE conference will be collecting these titles to benefit Way to Grow families. These books will supplement our home visiting curriculum and to help encourage parents to read to their preschoolers daily by fostering an early love for reading.

  1. Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
  2. Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
  3. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See by Eric Carle
  4. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
  5. Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
  6. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  7. Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant
  8. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
  9. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
  10. The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
  11. Swimmy by Leo Lionni
  12. The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
  13. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
  14. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  15. It’s Mine by Leo Lionni
  16. Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus

Print this list of preschool reading books!

Promoting Early Literacy Development – Tips for Parents

Promoting Early Literacy Development – Tips for Parents 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

At its core, early literacy development begins with what children know about reading and writing long before they themselves can read and write. Here are a few tips to help promote early literacy development at home:

1. Enjoy more conversation

Make the most of the time you spend with your child by simply talking and listening to them more. Listen to children’s songs in the car or use this valuable time together to talk about anything from the alphabet to the weather.

2. Avoid baby talk

Stick to more grown up language to build a long lasting foundation for literacy development. Many activities can promote rich language use, such as visiting a museum, zoo or other exhibit. You’ll find yourself using words to describe your surroundings in these settings that you may not often use in routine conversation.

3. Bring back the bedtime story

Researchers estimate that less than half of children under the age of five are read to daily. Reading with your child from birth is one of the best ways to promote early literacy development. Just a few minutes a day makes a big difference, so take a trip to the library and make sure you aren’t forgetting those bedtime stories!

4. Expand on school projects

If you don’t know what your child is working on in school, ask their teacher to share their unit plans. Once you know what your child is learning, build on those lessons at home to help deepen their knowledge and draw more connections to them. Have fun with this! If, for instance, your child is learning the letter “B” this week, take them to the beach (weather permitting), or create a collage using magazine and newspaper clippings of items or activities that start with the letter “B”. If your child is a little older, and perhaps learning about the environment, check out a really cool book about the rainforest, and talk about the differences between that environment and the one in which they live.

5. Encourage them and express pride

Nothing fosters a love for learning faster than the encouragement of a proud parent. Whether your child just learned their ABCs or finished their first chapter book, be sure to tell them what a great job they have done. Recognizing their hard work paying off will set healthy patterns for the future.

Rethinking Pre-K Funding and Quality

Rethinking Pre-K Funding and Quality 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

Recently, New America, a non-partisan think tank from Washington, DC hosted a public forum in Minneapolis to discuss the state of our statewide education system. With help from the McKnight Foundation and others, New America conducted a study, outlined in Building Strong Readers in Minnesota report, to find out what supports are needed to foster literacy development in children across Pre-K to 3rd grade. As a Lead Preschool teacher at Way to Grow Preschool P.A.L.S. program, I naturally found myself interested in the recommendations pertaining to the accessibility to preschool and quality early learning programs.

Preschool education is a bit like organized chaos, mainly due to the mixed delivery system of programming in Minnesota – some children attend school-based programming, others receive home-based programming, and some don’t attend any programming. Addressing the significant opportunity gap we all know exists in Minnesota for our youngest children of color living in low-income areas, I’d like to expand on the first of four recommendations made by New America; to “rethink pre-k funding and quality.”

According to New America, only 10% of eligible children are currently served through the scholarship program, making Minnesota one of the worst states in the country for Pre-K access. New America has suggested that we remodel the structure of early learning scholarships to reach more children across the state. Only meeting 10% of the most vulnerable families is not enough. This means that we have families who simply don’t have access to quality preschool because they can’t afford it. How can we address our statewide educational gap if we can’t enroll the kids who need the help most? Furthermore, why does the economic disadvantage of families affect their access to quality programming?

The recommendations set forth by New America with hopes of closing the education gap in Minnesota have taken solutions from theoretical notions to practical ideas. The risks are too high to not push for these recommendations. Something must change.

I know what a child looks like when he or she enters kindergarten ready to be there. Unfortunately, I also know what a child looks like when he or she enters unprepared. Take Saabira for example. Saabira entered preschool in the middle of the school year last year as a very charismatic but behaviorally challenging 5 year old. She arrived with a language barrier and had no preschool experience. She was far behind both academically and socially.

When we met Saabira, we knew it was time to get to work! We used a number of academic intervention strategies through summer school to help her meet kindergarten readiness standards. Her family participated in more than 80% of our parent-child classes and her Family Educator worked tirelessly, visiting the family weekly. Saabira soon began to enjoy learning and practiced her literacy skills while others were playing. She came to love reading, asking to read the story of the week a few extra times. After months of hard work, she not only caught up but also surpassed some of her classmates by graduation.

We need to consider kids like Saabira, whom our system, more often than not, leaves behind. We can start by increasing early learning scholarships, thereby widening access to quality programming to get more kids through the door so learning can take place.

About the Author:

Ashley PreK Teacher PicAshley Saupp is the Lead Teacher at Way to Grow Preschool P.A.L.S. Prior to teaching at Way to Grow, Ashley studied at The State University of New York at Potsdam where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a Master of Science degree in Childhood Education. Her previous teaching experience took place in a diverse public elementary school in New York City. While in New York, she had the privilege of completing classroom training with Columbia University’s Reading and Writing Project, a program focused on improving childhood literacy.

Talking to Your Baby Early and Often

Talking to Your Baby Early and Often 150 150 Way to Grow

A recent Associated Press article highlights the importance of the work that our Family Educators have been doing for years. During home visits, Way to Grow’s Family Educators work to encourage our parents to talk to their children (regardless of their age) throughout the day. This exposure to words and conversations has a tremendous impact on a child’s development.

As writer Lauran Neergaard reports, “New research shows that both how much and how well parents talk with babies and toddlers help to tune the youngsters’ brains in ways that build crucial language and vocabulary skills — a key to fighting the infamous “word gap” that puts poor children at a disadvantage at an even younger age than once thought.”

To read the full article from Friday’s Star Tribune, click here.

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