Its been three weeks since my last post – can you believe it? Things have been so busy here that I have had to sacrifice my blogging time to get everything done. Sometimes I wonder why no one invents a longer day – a couple of extra hours every day would be amazing! Alas, I will have to make do with the number of hours currently available and try to cram everything in! On with the blog…
At nursery we are always trying to come up with new ways of involving parents in their children’s learning, helping them to understand how important they are in their children’s lives. Lots of our parents ask us about reading and about how best to help their children so we decided to have a special ‘Share-A-Story’ session where our families spent time together reading books and enjoying some special time together.
We thought carefully about what we actually wanted to do in the session. We decided that what we really wanted was to foster a love of books and a desire in our parents to read with their children. We know that many of our families are very busy with work and other commitments and that sometimes routines like a story at bedtime (or at any time of the day!) often fall to the wayside. It was with this in mind that we attempted to make the environment as literate as possible, with as many books on display as we could manage. We created a number of ‘themed’ displays with books and props such as puppets, figurines and other toys to suggest that making simple links between books, the real world and play is easy to do. We also displayed the books that we had all around the room and tried to make the books accessible to adults and children. We used carpet tiles to created ‘book spots’ on the floor and we covered every low-level surface we could find. We also set up some big-books with circles of cushions to try and encourage parents to read to small groups of children along with their own child. The books on offer covered every genre we could think of. We had traditional tales, contemporary fiction, information books and the large floor books. We had paperbacks, hardbacks, board books, soft books, large books and small books. We really wanted parents to see that variety and choice are important and help children to learn about the different conventions of print. We provided a number of different seating areas and used chairs, sofas and cushions to create a range of different environments for reading. We also set up a ‘parents only’ area where we had a DVD and lots of leaflets and information available. We served tea, coffee and biscuits here too in order for parents to feel that they could stay a while a chat to other parents as well as staff.
The sessions were a great success and all the families that came along reported that they had enjoyed their time together in nursery and had a new enthusiasm for reading. It was great seeing so many of our children spending time with their parents, immersed in the world of books and stories. Staff were on hand to read to groups of children and we tried to model good reading practices. We showed parents how to help their child learn about the direction of print, about the parts of a book and about the author and illustrator. We also used high order questions to encourage children to develop comprehension and reasoning skills. Parents were able to observe and to learn. Others were reassured that they were already promoting good reading habits.
We plan to repeat this type of session since we found it to be great fun as well as really helpful for parents. The children keep asking when their mummies can come back to nursery to read stories!