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September 5, 2016 
Vol. 46 No. 10
Cooperatively Speaking
The Latest News from PCPI

Hello Again! 

As we ease in to the new school year, this edition of Cooperatively Speaking includes some resources that may be helpful for parents.  A reflection on the Common Core and what it means for kindergarteners is also included.

To share a quick housekeeping note, PCPI  invoices will go out the last half of September, with payment due in November.

Hope your year is off to a great start!

Dianne Rose, M.Ed.
Editor, Cooperatively Speaking



Resource Round-Up

As we welcome new and returning families back to school, you may find some of these to be useful tools and ideas to share.



Helpful Questions for Parents to Ask
Published by Edutopia.org, parents may find this list of 19 Meaningful Questions You Should Ask Your Child's Teacher to be inspirational at the start of the school year.

The Value Of Parental Involvement In Education
From the ChildTrends.org data bank, this report discusses the value of parental involvement in schools.  

Play and Education 
NAEYC for Families is a free resource that addresses topics of interest to families of preschool aged children.  The value of play based early childhood education is addressed in  Five Essentials to Meaningful Play and The Power of Play among others.

Resources for Cooperative Schools
PCPI offers a wealth of materials specific to cooperative education.  Some items are downloadable, others can be ordered through the website.  

Easing In To School
Parent Toolkit created a short video series on easing the transition back to school.



Have a great resource that you'd like to share?  E-mail info to pcpinewsletter@gmail.com for inclusion in a future newsletter.


Thoughts on the Common Core
Article by Kathryn Ems, M.S.  PCPI Treasurer and Past President
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have become a controversial issue throughout the U.S.   As a retired Learning Specialist, I've read some about the Common Co
re Standards, the in-depth answers required on the tests given at the higher grades, and students opting out of those tests.  I hadn't read the kindergarten standards until just the other day.  I was horrified.  Here are 2 of the worst:
  • Fluency:  READ emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding
  • Phonics:  Associate the long and short sounds with common spellings for the five major vowels

ALL kindergartners will read simple books and memorize phonetic rules by the end of kindergarten.


Why?   Why when all the research supports learning through play at this level?  Play with the sounds, play with rhyming and making up words, clap out the sounds in a word.   Learn the letters and sounds through games, not learning the rules for English spelling.   

When I was teaching I had a successful program that I used with first-graders at risk of having difficulties with reading. I'm a big believer in phonics for most children who don't l earn to read easily. But I'm an even bigger believer in phonemic awareness - the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds-phonemes--in spoken words. Before children learn to read print, they need to become aware of how the sounds in words work. Phonemic awareness is one thing that should be taught in preschool and kindergarten. Will there be time with the new emphasis on formal reading?

This published program taught phonemic awareness as it taught reading to the first graders. It wasn't that interesting, but they loved it. They could do it! They knew the answers! Success breeds more success and they were happy readers when they finished the program.
I also worked with kindergartners towards the end of the school year.  Most of our students could read as they exited kindergarten, but not all. With those children I tried to determine if they had a specific challenge. I found that one little boy, who also had speech difficulties, did not hear the individual sounds in the words. After he mastered that missing phonemic awareness skill, reading came easily for him.

Again, why this pressure? There is no purpose. Some children walk at 9 months, others at 14 months. You can't tell the difference at 2 years old, unless there is a medical issue. The same with reading; some precocious readers are fluent at 3 years old, others don't read until 6 or 7.  Unless dyslexia or another special need is involved, they are all reading by third grade if they have proper instruction.

Not only is there no need to be reading so early, it is harmful to many young children. My first graders loved getting the right answer. Most of what was done in the classroom was too hard for them. What can they learn from that?  Perhaps "I'm not smart."  Perhaps "reading is really hard and I hate it."  Not lessons we want them to learn.

The research clearly shows that learning through play provides the best academic results later on, but there is no research showing long-term gains from learning to read in kindergarten ( Reading Instruction in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, et al, Defending the Early Years).  The Defending the Early Years website ( deyproject.org)  is a great place for more information.

What can you do?  Talking to your principal is a good place to start.  The Common Core standards have been adopted by most states.  We need grass roots support so that the kindergarten standards can be withdrawn and rewritten to follow the research.

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If you're not familiar with Common Core but you want to learn more, The Common Core FAQ from nprEd provides an easy-to-read overview of how the standards came about, how the application of educational standards in the US compares to other countries, and what the future might hold.


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To submit an article or idea, please email pcpinewsletter@gmail.com.  Thanks!

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Parent Cooperative Preschools International (PCPI)