A really cool idea!
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.