Tuesday, May 31, 2016

All Hands on to PLAY Outside!

Now that it is warming up outside, it is the perfect time to yield the important advice that is offered in this blog post.  The first few sentences of the blog resonate with all of us that are early childhood educators, we need less sedentary play with devices and more active learning with the world we live in. 

"I get asked ALL.THE.TIME. for my recommendations of learning apps for babies and toddlers. Hands-on play is the best learning app, and the the perfect classroom for that learning right outside your back door. "

Click on the link to read more about the classroom that awaits you just outside your front door.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Vocabulary Matters!

This is just a message that can not be emphasized enough. Early vocabulary is very important to a child's ability to read and write later.  

Research suggests that poor children hear just 600 words per hour, while more affluent children hear 2,000.


Click on the link below to learn more.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Power of WAITING!

It might not be something you think of; but as parents with children who are developing language, sometimes the best thing you can do is wait and listen.

In my 12 weeks as an Early On intern, I have observed how a concept so simple can have such a large impact on a child’s language development.

What it looks like….

Give Them a Chance
When you wait patiently for your child to formulate his thoughts or make a request, you give your child the opportunity to show you what he/she knows and can say. Showing your child, by waiting, that you are interested in what they are doing will instill confidence in young children as communicators.

Let Them Lead
Wait and follow your child’s lead when choosing an activity or toy. When children are participating in an enjoyable activity, it increases the chance your child will be interested in communicating or talking about those interests. Waiting for them to take the lead provides young children with the opportunity to practice communication while having fun.

Silence Isn’t Always Bad
As adults, it might feel natural to want to fill the “silence” with chatter. Children who are still learning how to process incoming language might need a little extra time thinking. The chatter can sometimes be overwhelming and distracting. Pausing and waiting clearly indicates to your child that it is their time to speak and gives them time to formulate a message and respond. Don’t be afraid of pauses. Slow down and take the time to listen to what children have to say.

Too Many Questions
Too often parents bombard their child with questions upon questions and don’t wait and allow them enough time to respond on their own. Kiddos have a lot to say; but if you don’t allow them the chance to speak and formulate a response, it could be limiting their chance to grow in their language development. A good rule of thumb for this strategy is to try and wait between five to ten seconds after asking a child a question.

Waiting is probably the most difficult thing for parents to do—but you will be surprised once you wait and listen how much more your kiddo may talk. So go ahead, wait and see what happens!

 This post was provided by Hannah Duke, a Michigan State University graduate student and intern with the Early-On program in Ionia County.

Monday, May 9, 2016

4 Focuses When Picking the Perfect Preschool

It is May and that may mean you are on the hunt for a preschool program for the fall. If you are looking for a high quality preschool program that is a good fit for your child you may want to consider some of the suggestion in the following article.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Cooking in Preschool

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Once a month we incorporate a cooking experience into our room.  I send home a letter asking for donations of what we will need to become GSRP Chef’s.  Since there is no oven available, we use simple recipes. The experience of creating meals together can help build children’s self-confidence and lay the foundation for healthy eating habits.  
It may take a little flexibility and some simple prep work, but with the right expectations, your time in the kitchen with your preschooler can be a culinary adventure you'll both enjoy.   This will not only be a fun and messy day, we are also learning:
C:\Users\cgranzo\Downloads\004.JPGMath: Following directions, measuring and number concepts.
Science: Life Science and making predictions.
Literacy: Vocabulary and language development and reading directions on recipe cards.
Fine Motor: using tools such as knives and developing muscles and coordination in the hand and fingers

Whenever possible we try to include a picture recipe so children can start be independent if possible when choosing to “cook” and item.
The following are some pictures of children preparing applesauce in the crockpot in the preschool classroom.


This blog post was contributed by Michelle Aldrich, teaching assistant in the Great Start Readiness Program operated by Eight Cap, Inc.
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Monday, April 25, 2016

Social Studies in Preschool

Social Studies starts in preschool by learning about jobs around town, to exploring identity in terms of family, community and holidays. In preschool we start to explore our families and the community we live in. We start with having large group discussions about things that we see in our town, different jobs that we know and places we have been. These conversations spark interest in the child and we carry that over into their play. We include different pictures of our community around the classroom, we add books and maps about different places to our library and we add environmental print to our block centers. In the block center we can build towns, street, or a new town. Within our play we use directional words, and we elaborate at what we see around us.

Using what the students already know helps us get a start on their understanding; where we live, knowledge about themselves and understanding of how people live.  Which are all social studies standards.  Preschoolers are already very curious about the world around them, we just need to tune into it with more depth and purpose.  

At home there are many different ways to incorporate more social studies:

o   Create a map with your child next time you go to the store
o   Draw a family picture and include grandparents and aunts
o   Read environmental print wherever you go
o   Discuss different jobs people have within you family
o   Visit different places within our community, library, park, fire station, etc.
o   When playing outside observe and explore the location, environment, and discuss what season it may be.
o   Make a puzzle out of a map and put it together. Discuss different things you see on the map, rivers, lakes, roads and etc.  

Learn more about Social Studies in the Preschool Classroom at this link:

This article was provided by Hilary Butler, a Great Start Readiness Preschool Teacher with the Ionia ISD.

Monday, April 18, 2016


An Important School Readiness Skill
Recently I was in one of our preschool classrooms when I observed what often occurs with 4 year olds—CONFLICT!  As the children went to the small group table, two children wanted to sit next to same child…and a chair was not available ---Houston we have a problem! The one child staked out her position behind a child in the preferred chair and exclaimed, “I want to sit next to Bobby. The teacher confirmed, “You look upset, it sounds like we have a problem, as there is not a chair available next to Bobby, what could you do?”  The child with the problem suggested that the one child could just move, however that child declared that he wanted to sit next to Bobby too.” The teacher confirmed, “So it does not sound like that will work”.  Another child offered that, the child with the problem could sit next to Bobby next time.  However, that did not work for the girl with the problem either. Still another child suggested that if these three people moved to other chairs, it would let open up three chairs and they both could then sit by Bobby.  Of course as you may have guessed, this solution did not “work” of the other children at the table.  Finally, another child suggested that the one child switch chairs with the teacher.  The target child looked with big hopeful eyes at the teacher and the teacher said, “Ask me.”  So the teacher said, Miss Amanda, could you sit in this chair and can I sit in your chair so I can be next to Bobby?” The teacher said, “Sure I can do that today.”  Success, one child raised their arms in a cheer and said, “We did it, we solved the problem.”
There were so many wonderful moments in this interaction for both the teacher and the children.  When the teacher first started teaching in this program, she was the problem solver and most likely she would have directed the child where to sit. This is how most adults perceive their role with young children, I am the authority, I will keep the order and conflict was something you want to avoid.  However, she remained calm, and in a supportive role, restating and or summarizing children’s statements.   One of the clear themes that emerged to me in this interaction was not only that children have learned that they can solve their own problems but the sense of community that has been created in this environment.  Other children cared and offered ideas to help solve the problem.  From the child stand point, the child with the problem had learned to use her words to communicate and work through the problem which is another HUGE life skill.  There was no crying, pouting and physical tantrums in an effort to get her needs met.  The higher level thought processes were also evident as the group studied the dynamic and offered solutions to the problem. Problem solving is an important skill for young children to learn to work effectively with others.  
In all of the Great Start Readiness Preschool Programs (GSRP) teaching conflict resolution is a required component of the program.  High Scope offers the following steps to implement the problem solving process, which you can try at home.
  • Approach calmly, stopping any hurtful actions. Place yourself between the children, on their level; use a calm voice and gentle touch; remain neutral rather than take sides.
  • Acknowledge children's feelings. Say something simple such as “You look really upset;” let children know you need to hold any object in question.
  • Gather information. Ask “What's the problem?” Do not ask “why” questions as young children focus on that what the problem is rather than understanding the reasons behind it.
  • Restate the problem: “So the problem is...” Use and extend the children’s vocabulary, substituting neutral words for hurtful or judgmental ones (such as “stupid”) if needed.
  • Ask for solutions and choose one together. Ask “What can we do to solve this problem?” Encourage children to think of a solution but offer options if the children are unable to at first.
  • Be prepared to give follow-up support. Acknowledge children’s accomplishments, e.g., “You solved the problem!” Stay nearby in case anyone is not happy with the solution and the process needs repeating.

The next day, I went into this same classroom to observe the large group time which happens at the very beginning of the day.  The teacher informed the children, that today they would use the felt board for all of the children to participate in re-telling the story that they had read a couple times already that week.  She said, she had pieces of the story in the bag and she was going to give one piece to each child. As she started to pass them out, a child sitting in the circle proclaimed, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”  As the teacher handed out 16 pieces of the story without one expression of protest I thought, these children have learned another very important lesson about life.  Somethings are just not a choice, you just do it.
As there is so much emphasis about academic skills being the cornerstone of a “ready child”, these examples highlight the importance of supporting and building preschoolers social-emotional skills.  These are life skills that will take children successfully into kindergarten and all through life.  
This post was provided by Chery Granzo, Director of Early Childhood Programs for Ionia County Intermediate School District.