The question I get asked the most by early childhood educators is, "How do you hold their attention when reading aloud?" While easy to answer, the skill takes a lot of practice. The best way to capture a young child's attention with reading is to enjoy reading aloud. Regardless of what you are reading, children as young as infants recognize that you are focusing your attention on them. They observe you sitting calmly and hear the variations in your voice. They are watching your facial expressions and your non-verbal movements. All of this information is being processed in the child's brain. The attention you give to a child when you read aloud activates the reward center of their brain, causing them to want to repeat the experience. So chose a book that you enjoy reading and let the kids watch you have fun with it!
Even though three to five-year-olds can't read, they are still eager to know what's going to happen. Try using a visual schedule to keep preschoolers focused and on task. When kids take ownership of checking off activities, they are more engaged in every facet. Here are some simple pictures I use to keep kids engaged during storytime.
Learning about other cultures and holidays builds compassion in young children. Try these books for learning about holidays from around the world:
This adage isn't just for the aging. "Use it or lose it" applies to young kids as well. The brain goes through a process of neural pruning, where it will eliminate anything that isn't being used. How can early childhood educators take advantage of "use it or lose it"? Provide lots of opportunities for kids to practice what they learn. Here are a few ideas: Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Reinforce through repetition. Reading the same story or playing the same game 50 times may bore caregivers, but young kids will benefit from the repetition. Ask about a child's experiences. Bringing up the memory of events reinforces the initial learning experience. "Tell me about the animal noises you learned today." Create similar experiences. Link prior experiences to new experiences. "Does this chicken puppet look like the chicken we saw yesterday?" Contrast experiences. Link previously learned skills to things that are not the same. "This turkey is different from the chicken. How are they different?"
Just in time for Thanksgiving and fall, Racing to Read has added a Native American themed deposit collection for preschoolers. Request the collection today. 859-962-4062 Written by: Richelle Rose, outreach programmer for the Kenton County Public Library and children's book critic.
Brain research indicates the best early indicator of a child's success is "a strong bond to at least one loving, predictable, responsive caregiver." Creating such a bond with a child "is the most important factor in creating a healthy brain" (Jill Stamm, PhD, Boosting Brain Power). The greatest thing you can impart to your children or students is not information. It is how much you care about them. One easy way to do this? "Reading to children ... stimulates the pleasure centers in their brains and strengthens the caregiver-child bond" (Jill Stamm, PhD, Boosting Brain Power). For more information, get it @yourlibrary: