Program at Indian Mills Elementary School lays the seeds early
By Katrina Grant
They say reading early to your children is one of the most important things you can do for their development. At Indian Mills Elementary School in Shamong, the school is building on this concept with a summer reading program.
Seeds for Success Summer Program was started in 2007 and is taught by K-2 basic skills teacher Sherry DuBoff and Kimberly Shaw-Hartman, an art teacher who also teaches kindergarten basic skills.
Currently, it is a five-week program that takes place four days a week, for two-and-a-half hours a day. The program is completely funded by the “No Child Left Behind” act and is offered to the Shamong community for free. Parents only need to provide transportation for their children to the school.
“The Seeds for Success Summer Program plants the seeds of literacy for our students so they can become confident and successful learners,” DuBoff said in an email. “The district’s goal is to offer Shamong’s youngest students a path to learning that will manifest itself into life-long skills and success. It is an investment in our most valuable commodity and asset.”
Children are invited to participate in the program based on how they do in the spring kindergarten screening for incoming students and outgoing kindergartners are invited based on space availability. The student-teacher ratio is no more than six to one.
The literacy instruction part of the program focuses on the following areas:
n Reading instruction using big books and individual student books. About 10 sight words are introduced during the five-week session.
n Alphabet recognition skills using The Stevenson Language Skills Program.
n Printing lessons using the district’s Handwriting Without Tears program.
n Phonemic Awareness activities (introduced through songs, finger plays and rhymes).
n Writing Workshop (students engage in daily writing activities).
n Fine and Gross Motor Skill Development (activities include shaving cream writing, painting with various media, cutting with scissors, playing with Play-doh, making necklaces and bracelets and other fun activities to strengthen motor skill development).
n Computer and laptop activities to practice reading readiness skills using the Reading Prep 1 and Reading Prep 2 software programs.
n Reading Readiness skills using Structure of Intellect (SOI) individual modules of instruction (student booklets).
“Most of the instruction takes place in a small group setting with about five or six students in each group, but all of the participants eat snacks together to promote social growth and friendships,” Duboff said in an email.
The program provides many benefits to the children including:
n Academic growth and improvements; many of the participants do not require basic skills instruction in school.
n An opportunity to reinforce and practice skills learned in preschool.
n Students’ first exposure to school; the program introduces school routines and school-based social skills.
n Comfort and confidence with the school environment.
n The opportunity to build friendships before the school year begins.
n Active learning during the summer months.
n Less regression of skills at the beginning of the school year.
“We provide valuable resources for parents to reinforce skills at home,” DuBoff said in an email. “We offer weekly handouts with suggestions and ideas for home practice. We distribute two local parent magazines that provide useful information. We send home the students’ reading books along with word flash cards for parents to use for home practice.”
“We have as much fun teaching the students as they have learning,” DuBoff said.