A re­ally cool idea!

El Dorado News-Times - - Living - JIM DAVID­SON

Let me ask you a ques­tion please: What is the “coolest” place in your home? Now you may have to think a mo­ment, but I be­lieve you will agree that the coolest place in your home is in­side your re­frig­er­a­tor. If I had said, “What is the cold­est place in your home?” of course the an­swer is your freezer.

What I have just shared is the in­tro­duc­tion to a great idea that could make a real dif­fer­ence in the lives of some very spe­cial peo­ple. This idea came from a friend at my church. One day sev­eral of us were sit­ting around the ta­ble en­joy­ing our Wed­nes­day evening meal, and the sub­ject of read­ing came up, as it of­ten does since I am the founder of a lit­er­acy project.

My friend said he knew a fam­ily who taught their chil­dren to read by us­ing the bot­tom half of the out­side of their re­frig­er­a­tor. You think about it, and this is space that is ba­si­cally wasted in a home. It ap­pears to me, af­ter think­ing about it a great deal, that this is also a wasted op­por­tu­nity. Very sel­dom do you see a home where the top half of the re­frig­er­a­tor is not used to place var­i­ous things, us­ing th­ese lit­tle mag­nets that stick to metal and you can still slide them around and keep things in place. We have them at our home, and I bet you do, too.

But us­ing the bot­tom half of the re­frig­er­a­tor to teach a young child, from 2 to 5 years of age, to read is some­thing I had never thought about be­fore. As I pon­dered this unique idea, I re­called that this past year we had a book drive in our com­mu­nity and col­lected hun­dreds of good, mostly gen­tly used chil­dren’s books. We had enough to give each child in our preschool pro­gram two books each. It was quite a sight to see more than 260 4-year-old chil­dren sit­ting on the floor in their large cafe­te­ria. Dr. Greg Murry, our school su­per­in­ten­dent, Dr. Char­lotte Green, our Gifted and Tal­ented Di­rec­tor, and I talked with them about the im­por­tance of read­ing and en­cour­aged them to be­come life-long read­ers.

As I con­tin­ued to think, I was re­minded that there are three keys to learn­ing. The first one is rep­e­ti­tion, the sec­ond one is rep­e­ti­tion and, you guessed it, the third one is also rep­e­ti­tion. When a young child is ma­ture enough to go to the re­frig­er­a­tor and sees some in­ter­est­ing things at eye level that ap­pear in­ter­est­ing, their cu­rios­ity will be­gin to take over. Here is where the op­por­tu­nity to do a lit­tle teach­ing comes into play. Start slowly, and grad­u­ally in­crease the level and quan­tity of in­for­ma­tion. Soon this ex­er­cise can be­come very help­ful and re­ward­ing.

As you may know, most ele­men­tary schools have some type of bul­letin board mounted on a pole in front of the school to post var­i­ous pieces of in­for­ma­tion, such as reg­is­tra­tion dates, hol­i­days, and dates for school breaks. Many have a “char­ac­ter” word of the week.” As this ac­tiv­ity pro­gresses and chil­dren be­come more pro­fi­cient, this new re­frig­er­a­tor bul­letin or in­for­ma­tion board can be in­creased. Not only will this be­gin to teach read­ing, but or­ga­ni­za­tional skills as well. Char­ac­ter words could in­clude kind­ness, re­spect, hon­esty, re­spon­si­bil­ity, truth­ful­ness.

Off the top of my head, here are some dif­fer­ent things that could also be placed there: Daily Chores, such as pick up toys, make bed. Hy­giene: comb hair, take bath and brush teeth. Names of fam­ily mem­bers: si­b­lings, grand­par­ents, cousins, aunts and un­cles. Birth­days, Up­com­ing Events, the Child’s Name, the Al­pha­bet. There is no limit to ways a cre­ative per­son can use this idea. The rea­son I called this a “cool” idea, is to help ev­ery­one re­mem­ber it.

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