Seven Reasons Why Early Years Teachers Deserve Your Appreciation

May is Child Care Month so I’d like to take a moment to shine a light on the important work that Early Years Teachers are doing all over the world. Early Childhood Educators provide both the education and care for very young children AND opportunities for their parents to join the workforce. Here’s why they deserve your appreciation.

Music and Movement
  1. Early Childhood Educators require passion for the work they do. Sure the children are cute but caring for them is more than simply having fun. It requires supporting them in order that they reach developmental milestones.
  2. It requires huge amounts of patience and a sense of humour to care for a group of children day after day.
  3. Early Childhood Educators need to adapt their teaching techniques to the individual children and doing so requires creativity.
  4. Being a good communicator is critical. Early Years Teachers need to break information down into understandable pieces in a way that is understandable for a young child. Sometimes this requires sign language or use of visuals. It is also critical to be able to communicate with their parents regarding their daily experiences and general development.
  5. The work also requires great amounts of flexibility as no amount of planning can prepare for a day with young children where unexpected events can happen at any moment.
  6. Early Childhood Educators need the ability to understand and accept diversity as children come from many different home environments, have different backgrounds and learning styles.
  7. Early Childhood Educators are trained in child development and teaching techniques that are successful for young children. Many of them have a University degree in Child Development. They are able to support young children’s critical first experiences in school to set them up for a lifetime of success. This is the foundation on which all future education is built.
Art and Science Explorations

I’ve heard it said that a society can be measured by the manner in which it treats its youngest citizens. We need to value our Early Childhood Educators who are given the task of educating these tiny humans.

Thank you to readers for stopping by my blog. If you stop by on Mondays, you’ll find new children’s book releases, both fiction and non-fiction. On Wednesdays, I give you an inspirational quote, and throughout the month, you’ll find family events and activities, or posts related to education and child development. You are welcome here any time!

Sign up for my newsletter, Cindy’s Book News, and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Kid Lit Love: Seven New Children’s Book Releases in 2020

A couple of months ago, I was able to connect with several authors in the kid lit community who have new books being released this year and would like to be included on the Kid Lit Love blog series. It was amazing to get such a positive response from creators of children’s books and has been a pleasure to help get the word out about them. Some of these are debut authors and though 2020 may not be the easiest year for a book release, it is a pleasure to celebrate book birthdays together! I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all who have participated and those who will be participating in the future. I hope you will take a closer look at these wonderful new releases. Let’s all spread some Kid Lit Love!

Here are the books and authors featured in March and April:

Thank you to readers for stopping by my blog. If you stop by on Mondays, you’ll find more new children’s book releases, both fiction and non-fiction. You are welcome here any time!

Sign up for my newsletter, Cindy’s Book News, and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Kid Lit Love: A Doll for Grandma


Welcome to the Kid Lit Love blog series, celebrating new picture book releases every Monday! Today’s new release is by Paulette Sharkey, illustrated by Samantha Woo, titled A DOLL FOR GRANDMA: A STORY ABOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE. I’m excited to showcase this book because my life has been personally touched by family members with Alzheimer’s disease. As a preschool teacher, I’ve had parents or grandparents ask me about how to explain this to young children and I’ve always felt picture books are one of the most natural ways to do so.

Synopsis

My debut picture book, A DOLL FOR GRANDMA: A STORY ABOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE, is coming May 5th from Beaming Books, illustrated by Samantha Woo.

A little girl and her grandmother always find ways to have fun together. Then Kiera notices that Grandma is changing: leaving keys in the refrigerator, knitting hats too small to fit anyone’s head. When Grandma moves into a memory-care home, Kiera finds a new way to sustain their close relationship. She embraces the altered reality inside Grandma’s mind and gives Grandma a doll. Now they can take care of their “babies” together. This is a story about empathy and kindness and the special bond between grandparent and grandchild. It’s about loving and accepting people as they are, even when they change.

author, Paulette Sharkey

Bio

Paulette Bochnig Sharkey worked for many years as a librarian, first in her home state of Michigan, and later in Australia, Nevada, and Wisconsin. She has also been a proofreader, ghostwriter, developmental editor, recipe indexer, and transcriber of children’s books from print into braille. A DOLL FOR GRANDMA: A STORY ABOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE (Beaming Books, May 2020) is her first picture book.

Interview

It was a pleasure to connect with Paulette through social media. She took the time to answer questions and share some advice.

1. Tell us how you came to write books for children.

I started writing nonfiction articles for children’s magazines in the late 1980s and sold quite a few to places like Highlights, Cricket, Spider, and Ladybug. But I really wanted to write a picture book, a genre I’ve loved since my daughter was little and we read stacks of them every bedtime. It took me until 2017 to realize that goal, when I signed up for a Writer’s Digest course on picture-book writing and drafted A DOLL FOR GRANDMA. Many revisions later, I sold the book!

2. Tell us about the inspiration for your book or how you came up with the idea.

Around the time I retired from my job as a reference librarian, about 15 years ago, I read that musical memories are held in a part of the brain often left undamaged by Alzheimer’s disease. I’m also a pianist, so I started visiting memory-care homes to play the piano for the residents. It was fascinating to see how they responded to the music. Even those who could no longer recognize family or friends could recognize old familiar songs, especially the World War II–era songs of their youth. Even those who could no longer speak could often sing along. My inspiration for writing A DOLL FOR GRANDMA came from these experiences as a volunteer pianist. I enjoyed including a scene in the book where the “piano lady” comes to play—that’s what many of my elderly audience members call me.

3. Please share a piece of advice for children’s writers.

One thing I’ve learned on my way to getting published is that it’s impossible to predict the twists and turns in the road. I certainly never expected that my debut book would be released during a coronavirus pandemic. All we can do is try our best to stay focused on our work and trust that our words will find a way to the children we’re writing for.

To order: paulettesharkey.com/books/

website: PauletteSharkey.com

twitter: @PBSharkey

Thank you for stopping by my blog. If you stop by on Mondays, you’ll find more new children’s book releases, both fiction and non-fiction. You are welcome here any time!

Sign up for my newsletter, Cindy’s Book News, and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Five Great Nature Resources for Teachers

We know that getting children outside is beneficial for their healthy growth and development. And going outside is one of the activities that is not cancelled due to the coronavirus. So if your a parent looking to keep your children entertained during a school break, these are for you as well

Here are five resource links for educators who want to spend time in nature with children. If you’re a parent looking to keep your children entertained during a school break, these are for you as well. These have a particular focus for British Columbia; however, some of the information will be applicable anywhere. The best way to connect with the natural world is simply to spend time outdoors.

You don’t really need anything except your own curiosity and the appropriate clothing.

Horticulture Centre of the Pacific Gardens, Victoria, B.C.
  1. Nature Canada has some downloadable resources here including nature scavenger hunts!
  2. Check out the David Suzuki Foundation for more resources for teachers and parents.
  3. Life in the Leaf Litter ID card, for identifying small insects and other tiny creatures.
  4. Saplings Outdoor Program has more resources including links for where to get great outdoor gear for preschoolers.
  5. Fresh Air Learning has a host of resources including books, songs with links to recordings, emergency and first aid kits, and nature games.

What activities do you enjoy outdoors in your community? Feel free to share in the comments!

Did you know I have a picture book in progress? Sign up for my newsletter and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. You are welcome here any time!

At What Age Should Children Begin Piano Lessons?

I get asked this question A LOT.

It depends who you ask but most people begin to think about starting children in piano lessons between the age of 4-8 years of age. It is a good idea to consider the child, their level of interest and their fine motor development. Music lessons can help develop memory, creativity, self-discipline and self-confidence. Lessons can be beneficial for developing literacy, numeracy, and fine motor skills.

One of the benefits to starting early is children can learn quickly and will retain what they’ve learned later in life, especially if they start before the age of 10.

The key is to keep things fun and joyful. Your child must get satisfaction from playing. If getting the child to the instrument is a chore, it might be the wrong choice. Finding a teacher who is skilled in music but also understands child development is important.

Percussion instruments can be a great place to start for a young child.

If a child cannot yet move fingers independently, it could be too early to start. See if your child can place a hand on the table and tap one finger at a time. If this is a struggle, then wait a bit.

Generally, I accept children who are 6 years of age and up for piano lessons and I expect them to practice at home in between weekly lessons.

A music class with movement, games and singing could be more suitable for children who are 3-6 years. The social part of learning in a group reinforcing. And if children catch on to the joy of music at an early age, they will be more interested in learning instruments as they get older.

You can check out this post by Liberty Park Music for more information on learning other instruments and when to start.

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Thank you so much for visiting my blog! You are welcome here any time.

Spreading Joy Through Music

There’s one big reason I teach music for preschoolers. It’s the joy. Music has always brought me joy and I love to share that with young children.

My Saturday mornings are a pleasure as we gather with a small group of 4-6 preschoolers for our music sessions. We sing, we drum, we dance, we play xylophones, we listen, we play games, and we experience the joy of making music together. We use ribbons and scarves and each class ends with an opportunity to try the piano!

Children love our ocean themed music room!

My own children loved the Orff Music at the Brentwood School of Music, in beautiful Brentwood Bay, B.C. with Kathy Criddle when they were preschool age. Now it’s my turn to carry on the tradition as teacher of the program. My son went on to later become an advanced guitar player and my daughter continued with piano lessons for several years afterwards.

Do you think your child would like to join us? Registration is done through Panorama Recreation or contact the Brentwood School of Music. The next set of sessions begins April 4th. Look for “Little Shakers” on Saturday mornings at 9 am.

Sign up for my newsletter and learn about release dates, pre-orders and free offers.

Thank you for stopping by my blog! You are welcome here any time, whether you live in Victoria, B.C. or anywhere around the world.

Counting Down to Hundred Ways of Thinking!

Okay, how many more sleeps until the Hundred Ways of Thinking Conference? I am so excited! Woot! Woot! And spring is almost here…

Spring is coming to Victoria!

Join Suzanne Axelsson from Sweden at our 2020 Conference for two days of playing, learning and reflecting! 

As luck would have it, I seem to be developing some mild flu symptoms just days before this wonderful conference. Ugh! Though I feel lucky for the family day weekend and the extra day to rest. I am filling up my body with vitamin C and hoping for the best! I did get the flu shot so fingers crossed.

Here’s the weather forecast for Vancouver. I know there’s been some snow so I am grateful for the slightly warmer temperatures. Looks like we will see Vancouver in it’s typical rainy fashion on Friday and Saturday.

Looks like we won’t see much sun over the weekend.

These conference organizers are amazing! Just look at what they sent out to everyone. They are so thoughtful. Which Vancouver restaurants should we try?

From the Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House organizers!

Four more sleeps and I get to go and visit my hometown! Yay! Though sadly, I won’t make it to North Vancouver, which is my absolute favourite place to visit. Not enough time. Sigh.

Stay tuned for more conference updates on the way!

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Thanks for stopping by my blog. You are welcome back any time!

Royal Conservatory of Music: Benefits of Music Education

Royal Conservatory of Music research showed that the brains of musically trained individuals had more grey matter, had stronger neural connections, higher IQ, better memory, better attention, and better motor coordination.

Benefits of music education included

  • improved language abilities
  • increased emotional resilience
  • increased empathy
  • increased attention span and focus
  • increased self-confidence

These are some great reasons to advocate for music instruction in public schools. Keep the music programs going! There’s plenty of research to show this is a good idea.

Royal Conservatory of Music Paper on the Benefits of Music Education https://rcmusic-kentico-cdn.s3.amazonaws.com/rcm/media/main/documents/about%20us/rcm_musiceducation

Your Child’s Musical Literacy

Hey! I’m here to let you know that I’ll be at the Sidney Preschool giving a talk for parents about supporting your child’s musical literacy. This is geared for parents of young children and we’ll cover…

  • Why musical literacy is important
  • Research on music as it relates to brain development
  • Ways to support your child’s musical development
  • Starting your child in music lessons

Plus… you’ll actually experience the joy of musical learning in a group as we do a demonstration mini lesson. No musical skills required!

Join me on February 11th from 8-9 pm at Sidney Preschool on 2410 Malaview Avenue. Non-members of Sidney Preschool are welcome. Admission by donation. RVSP sidneypreschoolteacher@gmail.com