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The Many Roles Books Play In The Preschool Classroom

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No one can argue with the fact that books make wonderful transportation devices. Better than any automobile, any jet plane, any ferry, a good book deftly moves the reader, or the listener, out of the world they're in and into the one they wish to experience. For adults, the feeling can be addictive -- escapism at its best. But for preschoolers, the experience of a good book is also a terrific learning opportunity. The roles that books play in the preschool classroom go far beyond the purposes they serve established readers; they teach the many valuable skills that early learners need to master in order to thrive in later years. 

Books Teach How and Why

Good problem-solving skills are necessary for children to understand the way in which the world operates. And when you read a book -- any book -- aloud to a roomful of preschoolers and pause often to pose open-ended questions, you train them to think in the abstract:

  • "Why do you think nobody recognized the dirty dog when he returned home from his adventure?"
  • "If you had a purple crayon like the one described in the book, what's the first thing you would draw and why?"
  • "Why was the monster so afraid to reach the end of the book? What did he think was going to happen?"

Learning to think ahead and anticipate the direction the story is going to go is a valuable skill. So is taking the information provided in the book and learning how to apply it to real life. These are the reasoning skills that will eventually propel your classroom full of early learners into college and beyond. And they all begin when you crack open a good book and take time to ask questions.

Books Encourage Role-Play

When you're reading a book that stars princesses, superheroes, or just run-of-the-mill talking animals, you're giving birth to ideas inside the heads of those fifteen fidgety children in your care. With luck, they'll spend recess making gowns out of tablecloths and capes out of blankets. The importance of role play in early childhood learning has been a hot topic for years. This type of play helps improve social skills. It teaches cooperation and the natural exchange of ideas that are so necessary for success later in life. Role play, whether it's a little boy standing in front of a toy stove, stirring a pot of invisible soup or a group of girls solving a pretend mystery, helps refine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and most importantly -- imagination. And your preschoolers' imaginations are of utmost importance; just ask any famous painter, writer, or musician. 

Books Aid in Memory Formation

Training your preschoolers to think back over the last paragraph or page and summarize what happened is a huge step toward strengthening their reading comprehension in later grades. Learning to formulate memories of the content that was just covered is necessary for the child, and later -- the adult -- to fully understand the material. As a preschool teacher, you can nudge your youngster's memories by following up each reading with an activity that relates back to the book. Children can draw a picture of the main characters, or they can perform a small play or skit that revisits a key moment in the story. 

To a preschooler, books are the equivalent of Santa's workshop -- they provide all the tools needed to create something grand, something that they'll carry with them forever. And the child is the elf; he or she is the one providing the labor and deciding exactly how the finished toy will look, how fast it will travel and whether it comes packaged in a cardboard box or a blister pack. When you share storytime with the children in your classroom, you make your small corner of the planet a much bigger, much better place to be.

So pick out a book and get reading. For more information about preschools, contact a company like Kid's Country Child Care & Learning Center.