I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about why I write this blog. When I started blogging, I began with a home life blog. I wanted to encourage families to spend time cooking, gardening, sewing, and baking together. I majored in Family and Consumer Science (formerly Home Economics) while earning my teaching certificate and I love inspiring people to try these activities with their kids. I found myself constantly sharing children’s books and resources to go along with different activities. At that time, I had many readers on my blog who were stopping by for gardening ideas or different recipes, but they didn’t necessarily have kids at home. It was then that I realized that it might be time for two separate blogs. One blog would be about my home and the other would be about early childhood literacy.
I’ve struggled with the decision to separate the two blogs every now and then. I know that not all readers of my home blog have kids and might not be interested in the literacy piece, but I’m really trying to encourage all readers of my literacy blog to embrace the areas I focus on in my home blog. For years I’ve been trying to convey the idea that every single experience that kids have will impact their literacy lives. Every seed they plant, salad they toss, or pet they feed will impact their understanding of books or the stories they write. It makes me so excited when I think of the opportunities ahead of our kids!
Many years ago, in one of my kindergarten classes, we were looking at books and I sat down next to one of my boys. He pointed to a picture of a chicken and asked, “Teacher, what’s that?” I pointed to the chicken and asked if that was what he wanted to know the name of. (I repeated it because I honestly couldn’t believe that he didn’t know what a chicken was.) He confirmed that it was indeed the chicken that he was wondering about. I said, “Well, there is an egg right next to that animal. Do you know an animal that lays eggs?” He shook his head, no, and I told him that it was a chicken.
Experiences, friends. It’s all about experiences.
I don’t expect every single family to run out and get baby chicks for their kids to raise (although that would be ideal). But I do expect that families may visit a petting zoo, read books about farm animals, or maybe even visit the feed store when baby chicks are in stock. At the very least, watch a tv show together about farm animals and TALK about the different animals.
I was in a teacher-education class a few weeks ago and we were talking about the need for parent involvement and how parents are their children’s first and best teachers. 15% of our children’s time will be spent in school. The other 85% of the time is spent outside of school. What will you do with that time? How will you spend your days? What will weekends, holidays, breaks, and Summer look like? Where will your child be and what will they be doing? I’m not someone who advocates for spending time doing workbook pages. I’m talking about real LIFE activities that help your child develop into a literacy loving person who enjoys learning.
I truly believe that a love of literacy is built upon our experiences. As learners, we are the sum of our experiences. Kids come into my classroom, so excited to share activities they have done with their families. Their knowledge and experiences build their schema and support their ideas in writer’s workshop.
Whether it’s helping out in the kitchen, or taking a family outing, experiences are an essential part of learning. I was searching though pictures recently and loved seeing all of the experiences we’ve had as a family. They aren’t extraordinary experiences (except getting to see Shamoo). For the most part, they are pretty typical, every day, activities. I’m sure you do many of the same things with your kids. As you scroll through the photos, keep in mind that all of these little things are building your kids’ literacy lives.
Enjoy the photos.
Enjoy experiences with your kids, and help build their literacy lives!
This post may not be about what I’m doing to help families and kids, but it’s all about why I do it. I write because of the 85%. Parents have so much more of an influence on their children’s education than any teacher will ever have. 85%. What will you do?