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Shaler North Hills Library prepares preschoolers for classroom

| Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Although classes have not started, 30-plus preschool children have explored reading and math concepts in a classroom complete with appropriately sized furniture and an alphabet wall display.

Throughout the summer, the Shaler North Hills Library has offered “Ready for Reading!” and “Ready for Math! Kindergarten and First-grade Readiness!” in its Reading Readiness Room.

Parents still can register their children for the Aug. 15 program. The reading workshop is at 10:15 a.m. and math is at 11:15 a.m. On Aug. 16, reading is at 6:30 p.m. and math is at 7:10 p.m.

“I was a kindergarten teacher, so I try to give the children a little bit of a leg up for when they walk in on that first day,” said Joyce Mangis, who leads the reading class and works in the library's children's and youth services department. “That first week, the transition can be a little rocky.”

She said both classes focus on listening skills and allow children to practice separating from their parents for class, even though their parents may wait outside the classroom door and come inside if necessary.

The reading workshop focuses on printing skills, phonetic awareness, reading comprehension and letter recognition. Mangis also teaches the children to identify sight words, or the most frequently used words in the English language.

“In reading, we built with Legos and every Lego had a letter on it and we put them together and built the sight words,” she said of a recent class. “So it's like a hands-on (activity), yet they're taking away a skill.”

Ingrid Kalchthaler, youth services coordinator, teaches the math students to identify numbers, add and subtract, create patterns and graph, Mangis said.

Even though the classes are geared toward both those heading into kindergarten and first grade, all of the children are kept together.

“The students are between the ages of five and seven, which is really developmentally — they're about within the same range, so I think it holds their same interest,” she said, noting that many students return the summer after completing kindergarten.

Mangis thinks the programming “gives them (the children) an opportunity to anticipate what they might be learning and it gives them a sense of confidence and the other thing is it gives them a chance to socialize in kind of a more structured atmosphere.”

Another program designed to prepare incoming students is the library's “Kindergarten Rocks!” event at 10:15 a.m. Aug. 12.

“We play games and hear stories, and we provide books and provide information for parents and the kids,” she said. “By that time, our summer programming has ended and we begin to start fall programming, so it's just kind of a kick off to the school year.”

Finally, children may visit the library's Reading Readiness Room, which contains books, worksheets and school supplies ideal for the emerging reader, during library operating hours.

“To come into the room and to take ownership and to feel part of the reading readiness room, you get a little card and it's called your ‘license to read' and it looks just like a driver's license.”

“It's wonderful because if children take ownership of something, they take really good care of it. And we find that the kids love it (the Reading Readiness Room).”

Register for the events at shalerlibrary.org or by calling 412-486-0211.

Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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