One day in 2013, the History of Childhood Culture ExpoMuseum welcomed some special guests. They were angels from Ameneh Nursery, who visited the museum in “a noisy silence”. The museum attractions caused excitement and curiosity among them but they were “silent” because their speaking system was not nurtured enough to reflect their minds. They could not express their mind in their poor glossary and they were “noisy” because their excitement or ambiguity was converted into meaningless voices.
This was the reason to start the “Read with Me” program at this center….
Read with Me started its activity at Ameneh Nursery by teaching basic literacy to children over the age of three, with the primary aim of strengthening their auditory and verbal abilities. However, education should be tailored to the audience’s real capabilities and needs; though the growth of the mind and nervous system of the toddlers had no problem, but the environment and environmental experiences were very limited and sometimes inaccessible to them. Their potentials could not be actualized; sometimes they were even fallen behind their age to the extent that it led to judgments far from the reality. Such judgments transformed their fate from a child with natural abilities into a mentally retarded child.
We began with the “Learning Sounds” package. It was an opportunity for the toddlers and children to express themselves and find an incentive to try to talk. They have now figured out that instead of shouting, crying or hurting themselves, they could speak and in order to speak, they have to listen and so, they learned how to listen and talk every day.
Over one year of the program’s implementation, there has been a big change in these children, that all Ameneh Nursery staff confirmed it enthusiastically:
In Ameneh Nursery, reading was an opportunity for children to be embraced, seen and heard.
Their emotional needs were provided to a certain extent; they found identity, expressed themselves and grew their self-esteem.
They learned how to behave correctly with the book, became interested in the book, practiced turning the pages, saw pictures and writings, and tried diligently to define the story of the book and the story of the images. Accordingly, they were encouraged to speak.
With greater ability to speak and with increasing vocabulary, they found a better way to communicate and express their needs and desires. Instead of shouting, crying or hurting they got help from the words. They found peace in the books.
With interest in books and reading, their focus and attention increased. Their readiness to attend classroom and school became more and more.
By books, they were able to learn the rules of social life such as waiting until it is one’s turn, respect for each other’s property, the culture of permission, discipline, and so on indirectly.
Getting started reading with newborns and toddlers
Since October 2015, the target group has been changed to infants and newborns because older children were taken out of the nursery due to going to school or being adopted and their long-term focus was not possible.
Newborns can grow up with books and become a toddler so there is more chance to affect their lives. Restless children and some children suffering from various physical problems are relaxed by reading books and experience less pain due to the picture and story.
Over the past two years, storytelling, reading poetry, fairy tales and lullabies are used along with reading books, 16 hours a week for an average of 60 newborns and toddlers and so far, about 200 babies have read alongside us. The following goals are gradually achieved over time:
Reading books has become regular and almost daily for babies so TV programs have been abandoned.
Now, babies often prefer books to other toys, as long as they reach the book, they are motivated to stretch their hands, crotch, or crawl.
After the discovery of the book, rather than mouthing or throwing the book, the baby tries to turn the pages and eventually succeeds. Although this success is achieved by tearing several books, it is a valuable skill.
Babbling becomes phones before the age of one and vocabulary before the age of two. He can gradually make sentences, talk, communicate and express his needs peacefully. Thus, the stages of linguistic development are roughly proportional to his age.
Such a movement, which was not accepted by the authorities at the beginning and staff at the center, and sometimes even made them laugh has now become a tool for working with children, and many center trainers use the books to entertain children in their daily routines.