This post is sponsored by EPIC Endeavors Preschool.
My grandfather never read us stories. Ever. He didn’t need to. He could spin a tall tale for one minute or sixty, as long as you begged him enough. I couldn’t wait for bedtime to snuggle under the covers and wait for him to sit on the edge of the bed between my brother and me and begin, “Once upon a time…” It was a treat reserved for summer trips to grandma and grandpa’s house that I have never forgotten.
Storytelling is like magic and I find it very challenging to create something from nothing. I suppose I fall more in line with my mother’s method of grabbing the nearest book when my children need to be entertained. I started early and often with Taylor. We had feeding issues so I relied heavily on reading and singing to help pass the time and keep her in good spirits. Read and sing. Read and sing. Repeat. I can’t carry a tune at all but luckily kids don’t seem to mind too much.
Taylor loves books. She learned her ABC’s and 123’s fairly early, but then came a time when I realized that my skills as a mom, though enthusiastic, were rather limited. Taylor clearly was ready for the next step. She loved listening, she loved holding, and she loved turning the pages. She loved to stare at her books and page through them well into the night, despite some consistent and rather firm reminders that it was indeed, bedtime.
I toured various preschools and found some wonderful options that looked fun, had plenty of free-play time, and also introduced challenging topics. Then we moved. With little notice I began a rather frantic hunt assuming most slots would be taken already. We were very lucky to find EPIC Endeavors in Rochester. We took a long-distance tour via Skype and within a few days the decision was made.
A new backpack, a new lunch box, and a smile from her new teachers were all the convincing Taylor needed. While I had no idea how they were going to meet their goals, the EPIC staff did. Within a few weeks my daughter began her journey from passive listener, to active listener, to active reader, to proud reader.
Through games, songs, STEM experiments, exposure to site words, and fun animal picture books, they challenge each child to go at their own pace (they serve 3-5 year olds in a shared classroom) to gain new skills throughout the year. The teachers make it fun and that makes my job easy. Instead of being a teacher, I get to be a cheerleader and proud mama. I clap and grin as my daughter sounds out the words on a water tower or a street sign or repeatedly asks, “what does this spell?” on our way to school.
The other day I was busy with chores and both kids were underfoot. I asked Taylor “to read” to her baby sister. She grabbed a library book and sat on the edge of the sofa showing her sister the pages. Then she read the pages. All of them. I heard, “more, more” coming from the living room. Without missing a beat, Taylor changed the ending of the story and made it longer, giving her younger sister what she wanted —more and more story.
Perhaps the magic of storytelling isn’t lost in our family after all—it just needed a new generation and audience to love words and stories as much as my grandfather did—and, of course, a little boost from the new preschool in town.
by Heather Thranow, EPIC Endeavors parent