According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, today’s children spend an average of seven hours per day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other devices. 

At Woodstock’s Verda Dierzen Early Learning Center, kindergartners have access to programs such as PebbleGo, an online database featuring spoken-word audio, text highlighting and audio/video media. As early as kindergarten, children can research topics right from the classroom. 

“Children are leaving kindergarten [at VDELC] as emergent readers or readers,” kindergarten teacher Toby Goad said. This was not the case in years past. That technology is important, but it has its limits, Goad stressed.

“While the digital opportunities parents and students have nowadays are great options for busy families, sitting with your child and reading a book aloud to them is so much more valuable on many different levels,” Goad said. “We would never suggest parents replace this important bonding and learning activity with a device they use alone.”    

As at many schools, kindergartners at VDELC are required to read or be read to for 20 minutes per night. This has been the policy at the school for many years. 

“The single most important activity for building knowledge for their eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children,” according to a report by the Commission on Reading. Tricia Bogott, principal at VDELC, believes this to be true. The school welcomes guest readers into the classroom to read to the children. 

“It is great for the students to hear different voices,” Bogott said.

“More than ever, kids love to be read to. Especially with full-day kindergarten now, they love the one-on-one time together,” she added. 

When looking for a gift this Christmas for the special student on your list, Goad recommends a book and the gift of your time. Consider spending some time this winter break opening a good book and closing the tabs in your browser.

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