Helping your kids sing their way to understanding

Published: Apr. 21, 2020 at 5:44 PM EDT
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In just a matter of weeks, the coronavirus crisis has sent parents back to school, putting them in the teacher's role as schools around the country shut their doors. But, fortunately, there are some tools for parents transitioning into teaching.

"You just need to learn it and know the concepts you are going for and then you can totally use whatever you have at home," mom Heather Bond said.

One program parents can turn to is called Building Blocks for Literacy, developed by the Stern Center in Williston. It gives kids awareness of sounds, letters and the connection between the two.

Bond is a mom of five. She has used the program with all of her kids and even makes videos to send into her daughter's kindergarten class. But she says the best moment is seeing her kids understand something for the first time.

"It's so wonderful. They go, 'I think I get it.' Or they think up that rhyme or they think of the beginning sound of a word they hadn't really known because if you think about it, it's like a foreign language they're learning," Bond said.

The program has been around for about 25 years and is sold to educators across the country. Right now, the Stern Center is offering it for free thanks to philanthropic support.

The teaching is based on games and activities parents most likely already know.

"If you know the song 'If You're Happy and You Know It,' just change it up," said Brenda Buzzell, a Building Blocks trainer.

To parents thinking about trying it...

"Don't be afraid, you don't have to be a teacher or expert," Bond said.

"Sing a lot, because singing is all done in syllables and rhymes. You can't sing a song without breaking it into syllables," Buzzell said. "Five little monkeys climbing up a tree, one fell down and hurt his... knee."

Bond says if her kids are goofing around while waiting in, say, a long line and they need to calm down, these songs can be a great educational distraction.

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