Monday, October 8, 2018

Five Reasons To Read To Your Child

Photo courtesy of: 2081671; courtesy of Pixabay

Learning to read is a skill every child must master to advance in school and in life. Over the years, many parents have asked me when they should begin reading to their child. My answer is always the same, at once. 

I read to my children before they were born. I was a tad overzealous, but it helped me prepare for the traditional bedtime story.  

After my kids were born, I read them simple board books and pointed to the pictures while identifying the objects on the page. I also shared family photos to support facial recognition, and the names associated with them.

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As they grew, I made environmental print books from old cereal boxes, Dunkin' Donuts cartons and Burger King bags. Environmental print is the writing we see in our daily lives; examples include street signs and logos for products and stores. 

Most children can "read" the STOP sign and the McDonald's or Wal-Mart logos. When your child does this applaud their efforts and nurture their growing skills by "reading" more environmental print together.   

Photo courtesy of: Picsea; courtesy of: Unsplash

So, why should you read to your child?

1. It builds vocabulary.

A well-rounded vocabulary is a precursor for reading achievement. Children with a wide vocabulary better comprehend stories read to them. This sets the stage for future independent reading.

The average two-year-old is expected to learn 50 words, compare that with a three-year-old who should know 200 words a year later, and you begin to understand why vocabulary development is so crucial. An excellent way to expand your child‘s vocabulary is to read, sing, and play.

2. It teaches fluency.

Fluency is the skill of reading a text smoothly, accurately, and with a meaningful expression. When children listen to stories, they internalize the reader‘s inflection. 

These vocal nuances teach children the expressions good readers need: like when to pause at a comma, when to stop at a period, and how to modulate their voices for question marks and exclamation points.

3. It develops a lifelong love of reading.

Reading provides a safe atmosphere to discuss the topic of a book. During these conversations, parents can ask their children questions or engage in meaningful dialogue. 

This interaction will strengthen a child's communication and comprehension skills. Ultimately, these positive moments will create pleasant memories and foster a confident attitude toward reading that will last. 

4. It fosters writing development.

Good readers make good writers. A youngster who listens to stories gains a strong awareness of the concepts of print.

Concepts of print are an elementary set of skills that beginning readers require and may include the following characteristics: distinguishing text from illustrations, demonstrating left-to-right directionality upon viewing a text, or identifying individual letters within a word.

Children who have these skills understand that print conveys a message that has meaning. They also comprehend the ideas of letter recognition and letter sounds. In tandem, these qualities help children learn to write.

5. It creates positive relationships.

Reading is a wonderful way to bring people together. When children learn correct reading behaviors, they can listen to and enjoy stories in school. 

After a large group read-aloud, my students flocked to the library and engaged in spirited conversations about the characters in the books I had read to them. Many classroom friendships began this way.

The joy and creativity that reading brought to my children and my students was a wonderful thing to witness. All it took was a little time, a little laughter, and lots and lots of books.

Books for young readers:

Photo courtesy of: jutheanh; courtesy of: Pixabay

What books do you read to your children? 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Interview With Teacher Bridget Tait

Photo courtesy of: Bridget Tait

I met, Ms. Bridget Tait, a few weeks ago at the, School Is In, Let The Reading Begin event, in Philadelphia. I found Ms. Tait easy to talk to and knowledgeable about the literacy support so many students require. 

As we spoke, it became clear she felt passionate about her work and eager to spread the word about the challenges students and teachers face in urban school settings.

I hope you find her insight as meaningful as I do.

Hello, Bridget, and welcome to Lemon Drop Literary. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.
Thank you for having me.

Why did you become a teacher?
Because my education afforded me many opportunities. I was a foreign language major in college.  As a language major, I could apply for scholarships studying abroad.  

After completing my undergrad, I lived in Germany and worked as an assistant English teacher. During this time, they awarded me a full scholarship to the University of Salzburg, Austria, where I majored in German.  

This time overseas impacted my life and broadened my perspective as a global citizen.  This is why I am an English as a Second Language (ESOL) teacher today.  I want my own students to become whatever they desire.  Through education, I believe my students will reach their aspirations.  
What grade do you teach?
I teach ESOL at a Kindergarten to sixth-grade school in the School District of Philadelphia.
What do you find most rewarding about teaching?
Teaching ESOL allows me to meet students from all over the world. These students are motivated and have a great desire to learn English.  
What do you find most challenging about teaching?
The funding inner-city schools receive. It is not equitable. Students in inner-city schools need more support, but their schools receive less money than their suburban counterparts.  

This spartan budget has a direct impact on the quality of instruction. As a result, city teachers use their own money to buy supplies for their classrooms.  

How has the lack of funding in public schools affected you and your students?
A great deal. The district‘s infrastructure is falling apart. Students often learn in antiquated school buildings with leaking roofs, mold, lead paint, asbestos, and rodents.  

Daily exposure to these toxins can lead to serious health problems. It‘s difficult to learn or teach under these conditions.  

Public schools lack books, modern curriculum materials, and furniture.  For example, a third grade Social Studies textbook lists Barack Obama as a senator in Illinois.   

Public schools don‘t have libraries and broken furniture is not repaired or replaced.  Teachers and students can‘t work and learn in this atmosphere.  

They overcrowd public school classrooms due to staff numbers and school spacing.  They should reduce class size in city schools.  Students in city public schools deserve the same quality education as their suburban peers.   

If you could ask politicians to do one thing to help students in our country, what would it be? Why?
As mentioned above, inner-city students deserve the same quality education their suburban peers receive. Due to unequal school funding, this is not the case.  

I urge politicians to lobby for fair school funding.  Their zip code should not dictate a student’s quality of education.  A fair education is an innate right and should not be considered a privilege.   

Do you have any advice for teachers just starting their careers?
Teachers must be flexible.  They have heavy workloads, multitudinous responsibilities, and work under strenuous conditions.  

Could you tell us a little about Language to Literacy?

Language to Literacy LLC, provides reading consultations and specialized reading interventions in Orton-Gillingham and the Wilson Reading System. 

These multi-sensory approaches to literacy, remediation, and alternative learning services focus on students with learning differences, (preschoolers through adolescents) including those with language processing difficulties, students with dyslexia, and English Language Learners (ELLs). 

Language to Literacy services students on a one-on-one and/or small group basis at local schools, in after school tutoring programs, and virtually in the Greater Philadelphia area.

Where can parents and educators find out more about you?

Parents and educators can find out more about Language to Literacy at  We are on facebook at @language2literacyphila, twitter @lang2literacy and Instagram  language2literacy.  

Thank you, Bridget, for spending time with us and sharing your 

experiences with The School District of Philadelphia. 

We wish you and your students lots of luck and continued success!

Photo courtesy of: Bridget Tait