A Keystone STARS certified child care provider shares Emma’s story.
My name is Joy Ashley, Owner/Director and Teacher at Ivy May Day Care & Pre School, a certified/licensed child care, and a STARS 2 program before the COVID-19 pandemic. We are in State College, Centre County, Pennsylvania.
The COVID-19 forced us to close and during this time we had to pivot and take our teachings online. This is where I met Emma. She started my program in April 2020, as her preschool was forced to close due to the pandemic too.
When I met Emma, she was very shy. She seemed not so sure of herself and missed her friends, teachers, and school. Emma was four years old and knew some of her letters and numbers. I asked her what mostly she would like to be able to do. She said in a soft sad voice, “I can’t read.” At four years old Emma was conscious of the importance of being able to read. She was very concerned that she needed to learn to read, but with school closed she knew she was not able to do so. I assured her that I would help her, and by next year she would be able to read.
Today, Emma is five years old, and one year later she is reading and understanding the story lines. When she reached page 75 of her reader, she was so excited and proud of herself, she exclaimed to her family and I, “I can read, I can read!” She also surprised her family by reading things in the home, at the doctor’s office, on signs, at the stores, and wherever she goes.
How did Emma get here? I invited Emma to join our “Book & Pencil Reading Program” as a “Reading Detective.” I would give her the tools and supplies she needed to “crack the reading codes” and she said yes.
We set up a schedule to meet Monday – Friday via Zoom for fifteen to thirty minutes or what was comfortable for her. This was a challenge with a new way of learning, different rules, no focus and little attention. For the first few days everything seemed to be a distraction, plus, the interjection of periodic technical difficulties. We have overcome these obstacles and Emma has adjusted to her new learning environment.
First, she had to learn all her letters, uppercase and lowercase. She had to learn the sounds the letters made and find them at the beginning of words, in the middle of words, and at the end of words. We sang them, said them, drew them, colored them, wrote them, played “What comes next?” etc.
We have moved to two days a week. Our next topic will be to examine those tiny things between the words and how to use them (like: ? ! ,)
Today, Emma is a confident reader. She has developed a love for reading and doesn’t want to miss a day. Emma has learned to use every moment as a learning experience, and her family has utilized every moment as a teachable moment. Emma is a very special child who through her determination, has managed to inspire her family, friends, and anyone who hears her story about learning to read.
As Emma grows closer to reaching her full promise, we hope her story will encourage parents, family, teachers, and caregivers to know that children know it’s important to learn to read and they want to learn to read.
Jim Johnson, Penn State University, Professor of Education, Early Childhood Education, added, “We know that children will accomplish this important developmental task at different rates, some earlier, some later, but they will get there. Along the way let’s assure them of this and support their progress cherishing each child’s emergent literacy and emergent personhood.”