As the first rainy days in a while usher our school community into October, laughter and the occasional ‘knock knock’ joke echo through the halls, freshly adorned with the children’s art. Labels, naming all the pieces of our school, are EVERYWHERE as the children work together, with the aid of their teachers, to learn all of the letters and their sounds at Captain Hunt School and begin to develop sight word vocabulary and READ J at MI Robertson Elementary. ‘Up’ ‘Down’ ‘Window’ ‘Door’ ‘Open.’ Even Mrs. Hurley’s hermit crabs, Mrs. Acosta’s fish and Miss Joanne’s Fish named ‘Pickles’ have labels.
Some of you who have older children or were part of our school community last year or even my first year here in Central Falls may remember that I grew up with 4 brothers and a sister. The labels everywhere in our school invariably make me think of our refrigerator back in NY when I was a teenager. Depending upon when my mom had last food shopped, (as she and my dad balanced work and 6 kids ~ 4 of whom were within 4 years of each other,) the variety within our lime green fridge would dwindle and labels would appear. Ice cream seemed to always have signs, ‘MINE! DO NOT EAT!’ Mom’s angel food cake, covered in tin foil, and other desserts would say ‘Do Not Touch’. None of these signs were written by my parents but instead by my brothers and sisters. Even the cheese was not safe from our words and pictures drawn/written to each other in order to deter a hungry sibling from sampling a sweet or a favorite. Some of you may be able to relate. Much to my mom’s dismay, the broccoli and spinach never had labels protecting them from sibling intruders. With years, the agony of a treat devoured by my big brother’s hunger has diminished to sweet nostalgia. Now, the labels just make me feel happy and think back on the chaos of our youth with affection. Nevertheless, our taped notes (I don’t remember using sticky notes at that time) were a way that we communicated with each other within our Tanner world/walls. “Print” became a powerful force.
It is my hope that you will share that love of print with your child this month and in the months to come. Please consider helping your child to read the letters/labels in our school community as you navigate the building this year with your child. Perhaps, also consider making some of your own labels for your home ~ especially if your child is celebrating this year as a Kindergartner. Teaching your child the words ‘on’/’off,’ with words by the light switch; ‘up’/’down,’ by your stairs; and ‘open’ by your refrigerator, can give the simple sight words meaning and relevance as your child works to learn all 26 letters/sounds and the 100 plus sight words that we hope for each child this year. As we head to the pumpkin patch next week and return with pumpkins for each home, you may even want to label the pumpkin with the color word, ‘orange.’ With guidance, the children can even make the labels themselves. Thank you for working together with our faculty & staff, with focus, to assure that the children in Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten this year, not only know all 26 letters/sounds & 100 plus sight words by the end of the year but fall in love with using print & words to communicate.
Beth Tanner, MS Ed