Why Play is Important to Early Childhood Development

“I like to think of play as being the practice a child needs in order to master the many fine skills that will be used for later tasks. Much of what we do as adults is stringing small skills together that we’ve learned automatically. Children are practicing those skills while playing.” – Greg Yoder, teacher consultant at CLC Network

What better time to play than in the summer, when the sun is out, the water is warm, and free time seems endless? Well, as teacher consultant Greg Yoder points out in this clip from his professional development session, play should be a priority year round. Greg Yoder explains why in this video:

The Importance of Play in Early Chilldhood Development CLIP

Click the image above or this link (http://youtu.be/VOKIsUG_11o) to watch this short clip.

With the understanding that play is important, how can you foster creative play in your home or classroom?

  • Be encouraging and not judgmental. Let kids make their own mistakes and learn from them. Don’t interfere too much.
  • Make wise choices in toy selection. Choose toys that allow kids to use their imagination. Some great examples include building blocks, dress up clothes, toy kitchen sets, toy cars with race tracks, and more.
  • Limit all screen time. Many child experts say kids should not have any screen time before the age of two, and very little thereafter.
  • Read aloud to children daily. The most important thing we can do to help a child read is to help them develop a love for storytelling and reading. We can do this by reading aloud to them daily.
  • Be playful with word usage. Teach kids the nuances of language while playing word games. You can do this while driving in the car, shopping at the grocery store, doing dishes at home, or during other daily tasks.
  • Be playful. When your child is having fun, that’s the best time for learning

Additional resources:

Photo of Greg YoderGreg Yoder is a teacher consultant at CLC Network in Grand Rapids, MI. Read about his involvement in creating inclusive communities at West Highland Christian Academy and Creston Christian School.  Articles also by Greg include, The Benefits of Journaling and Include Others – Jesus Did.

Why Home-Based Reading?

Little did I know at the time Susan and I were approached by CLC to write a book about reading for parents who wanted to work with their children at home that I would be a home-schooling parent myself.  From a young age I knew I wanted to be a teacher.  While attending college I began to think more specifically about being a reading teacher after having taught in the classroom for a while.  The thought of home-schooling never crossed my mind.

Books

I set out to do what I had planned and wanted to do.  I taught at various schools in different grade levels for several years before leaving the classroom to become a reading teacher.  While pregnant with my fourth child, the idea of home-schooling was planted.  I thought it was something I might want to try with this little one at some point and time.  A few years later a fifth child came along and the seed that was planted started growing. I was working part-time as a Reading Recovery teacher at the same school my older three kids were attending.  I loved teaching reading and my older kids enjoyed school, so I put the idea of homeschooling on the back burner for a while. 

When CLC approached Susan and me about writing this book, both our interests were peaked.  Susan had been tutoring some home-schooled children and my heart was turning more and more towards home-schooling.  By the time we were finished and the book was published, I was homeschooling my youngest 2 children.

I still am a Reading Recovery teacher, but since I only work a handful of hours per week, I have the schedule and time to home school my own children.  My husband works from home so he is willing and able to fill in when needed.  I have a new appreciation for home-school parents.  It is busy!  There are many things I miss about my kids not being in school, but there are also many blessings I am finding while teaching them at home.

I don’t know what God has in store for me and my family in the future.  I am trying to take it one busy day at a time.  I do know that I will continue to have a heart for classroom teachers, homeschooling parents and children who struggle with reading.  This book is an attempt to be a guide for all those who work with children who need extra support with reading and writing.  Susan and I hope that as you work with your children, and the parents of your children, you will experience the same blessings we have over the years helping children learn to read.

Sandra Vroon IMGSandra Vroon has taught second grade, third grade and fifth grade.  She is currently a Reading Recovery teacher at Legacy Christian School.  She also serves as an adjunct professor in the area of Literacy for Calvin College and GVSU.  She continues to love teaching both in schools and at home.  In her spare time she reads children’s novels, drives her kids to their different activities and teaches Zumba.

 

For additional posts on home-based reading, check out these previous posts: 

Comprehension: A Key Component to Successful Reading

How to Introduce New Books to Your Child

Questions You and Your Child Should be Asking

How to Introduce New Books to Your Child

Last week, we shared why reading comprehension is necessary for your son or daughter to be a successful reader. This week, parents, teachers, home educators and authors Sandra Vroon and Susan Harrell share one strategy for helping your child strengthen their comprehension skills: introducing new books with to child.

Why is this important? Because it will pique their interest, introduce new words and concepts and give them an idea of what the story is going to be about.  (Learn more about this from Drs. Fountas and Pinnell)

Reading Together

Credit: Phil Dowsing Creative, http://flic.kr/p/4G8o6f

Steps for Introducing a New Book:

  1. Give a summary of what the story is about. This gives your child the main idea to refer to when reading the story.
  2. Talk about the pictures together before reading. Look at the pictures and talk about what your child thinks is happening and will happen next. This will help him to predict the story and reinforces the meaning of the text.
  3. Talk about any interesting language your child may encounter during the reading of this book. This will help your child use structure and language patterns.
  4. Discuss any concepts that you think may be new or difficult for your child to understand based on his background knowledge
  5. Preview the book and find one or two high frequency words that you are working on. Go to the page the first word is located on. Say the word you want your child to locate and have him repeat it after you. Ask him what letter he would expect to see at the beginning of the word. Have him run his finger slowly under the word and read it. Repeat this with the second word. This helps your child use the visual information from letters to guide him through the text.
  6. Enjoy this opportunity to read with your child. Keep the experience fun and relaxing for both you and your child.

Check back next week for a fun reading activity!

This text was adapted from Sandra and Susan’s new book, Best Practices for Teaching Reading at Home.

Sandra Vroon IMGSandra Vroon has served as a general education teacher, Reading Recovery teacher, adjunct reading and literacy professor and most recently, a home educator. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Calvin College.

Susan Harrell IMGSusan Harrel has spent the last 30 years in a variety of educational settings including a one-room mission school in Uganda, a K-12 school for LD students, multiple elementary grades, a Reading Recovery room, private tutoring of home school students and more. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Calvin College. 

Comprehension: A Key Component to Successful Reading

Reading is one of the most important keys needed to unlock learning for your child. Many children just learn to read by themselves. For others, the reading process does not come easily. These children need to be purposefully taught

Teaching Reading at Home

the strategic activities and decision-making processes that good readers naturally use on their own.

Over the next month, Sandra Vroon and Susan Harrell will share strategies they’ve learned through their experience as parents, teachers and home educators to help children become successful readers. We will be sharing excerpts of
their new book Best Practices for Teaching Reading at Home with hopes that you can apply their suggestions to help your own son or daughter.

Let’s begin with a story.

Young girl imageKatie was an excited early reader. She enjoyed listening to stories and her emerging ability to read them herself. Many good teaching lessons were put into her decoding, fluency, expression and accuracy. Katie sounded very good when she read a story. She often had difficulty, however, predicting what might happen next in the story, as well as remembering the order of events. This made retelling a story difficult for her.

Katie struggled with comprehension – the understanding of what is read. Comprehension is the heart and soul of reading. It is not the product of reading, but the process of reading. Comprehension strategies enable a reader to make connections and make sense of the text. This meaning is a strong support in maintaining fluency, detecting and correcting errors and solving words while reading.

How do you detect comprehension?

You may notice that your child already has a good sense of stories and what they are about. He knows stories are about getting a message and meaning. Keep building on this with each text your child reads, whether it be fiction or nonfiction. Your child might need extra support in this area if you notice him saying words that make no sense at all in a sentence or story. You might ask your child a question about the story during or after his reading and realize that he missed the main idea that the author intended to convey. You might find that your child has difficulty predicting what might happen next in the story, showing that he hasn’t fully understood what has happened so far and where that is leading to.

If this is the case, stay tuned for strategies to help your son or daughter comprehend what they’re reading.

Sandra Vroon IMG

Sandra Vroon has served as a general education teacher, Reading Recovery teacher, adjunct reading and literacy professor and most recently, a home educator. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Calvin College.

 

Susan Harrell IMG

Susan Harrel has spent the last 30 years in a variety of educational settings including a one-room mission school in Uganda, a K-12 school for LD students, multiple elementary grades, a Reading Recovery room, private tutoring of home school students and more. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Calvin College.