Smithville school district wants to help all children succeed, and Brown Primary’s Special Education Teacher Marianne Fitzsimons and Librarian Krystel Gutierrez have found a way to reach children early. Brown Primary is increasing school readiness for pre-school students with a new program, Tiger Tales, which exposes them to five practices that foster early literacy development: talking, singing, reading, writing and playing, according to Mrs. Gutierrez.
Mrs. Fitzsimons got the idea in response to needs of her student’s mothers who want additional language-based activities for their children.
“My goal is to have parents learn how to have fun reading with their children and learn how to naturally enhance language building into daily routines,” said Mrs. Fitzsimons. “Another goal of our program is to reach parents and children that are not yet in the school setting or are more isolated from family who need to get support from the community.”
Mrs. Fitzsimons is leading the 12-week program which hosts a half hour of story time for the preschooler and parents on Tuesday mornings followed by other language-based learning activities.
Tiger Tales was granted funds from the Smithville Education Foundation to buy books used in the program. Each preschooler is given a board book copy of the one read that week to start their own in-home library as part of language rich experiences which children need to achieve success.
Sessions also focus on educating parents and caregivers about practices and activities to promote early literacy at home.
“We do get many early childhood referrals for special education,” said Mrs. Fitzsimons. “Perhaps we can reduce the number of students who are behind in any way when they begin pre-kindergarten.”