Jill Stafford, a Stony Brook Child Care preschool lead teacher, has been awarded Mini-Grant funding by the New York State Association for the Education of Young Children (AEYC) for her project, “Multi-lingual Books and Music Experiences.” She is a previous recipient of Suffolk County Association for the Education of Young Children grant funding to foster physics exploration with preschoolers in a project called “Ramps and Pathways.” Stafford serves as secretary on the executive board of the AEYC Suffolk chapter.
Stafford came up with the idea for this grant as she was searching through iTunes for audiobooks and discovered a selection of audiobooks in languages other than English. She realized that using these might be an excellent way to provide more support for dual-language learners in the classroom.
Through the project, Stony Brook Child Care has developed a library of books, audiobooks and music that reflects the diversity of languages spoken by the families in the classroom. Children’s home languages have become a more prominent part of the classroom curriculum since the kids can actually hear and see the languages.
Parents have become more involved in the classroom as a result of the grant funding. They now come in and read books to the children in their native languages. Families feel that their home languages are respected and that their children are supported. An enriched partnership of learning between teachers and families has developed.
“I loved that this project incorporated language, social studies and technology in one comprehensive unit,” said Stafford. “The reaction of the children upon hearing their native language played in the room made it evident that they were engaged in the activity and more connected to the classroom environment. I also really enjoyed the responses of the other children, whose questions and comments about what they heard showed that they had a real interest in understanding more about different languages. By connecting their study to their classmates it had meaning and a relevance that they seemed to recognize and appreciate.”