Moving experiences boost Gower West language skills

While her classmates shared thoughts of being a teenager, train, butterfly, genie or ballerina, one Gower West afternoon preschooler shared a dream that has danced into the dreams of plenty of adults this winter as well.

“That it was spring already,” the girl said.

The dream-sharing exercise was part of this week’s Literacy through Movement program at the Elementary District 62 school. A six-week program, Literacy through Movement is a combined effort of the Salt Creek Ballet and West Gower preschool teachers Jamie Bley and Lindsay Waite. This session of the program, being funded by the Gower Foundation, is focusing on the book “The Napping House,” which is why activities and discussions relates to sleep.

The program combines music and movement in an effort to reinforce book vocabulary and story comprehension among preschoolers.

Waite said the program, now in its third year, is definitely having an impact.

“We focus on six to 10 vocabulary words from the story. We test the youths on the vocabulary words before and after the program and we have seen an increase in their knowledge of the words,” Waite said. “Scores went from 50 percent to 83 percent.”

Kelly Stokes, Salt Creek Ballet’s outreach coordinator, said the work with Gower West preschoolers is rewarding.

“I love working with the children and seeing them grow,” Stokes said. “I love being able to help them with learning through movement.”

Stokes works with morning and afternoon preschool sessions at West Gower on a weekly basis during the program. The last session has parents come in to see what the children have learned and to participate in the movements as well. Waite said parents and children dancing together is a great scene.

Stokes will also bring dance company members in at some point to visit with students, perform some dances and interact. She said Salt Creek Ballet provides free tickets to a performance for students and their parents as a bonus.

In this week’s program, Stokes worked with students on putting body parts, such as knees and hands, to sleep and then waking those body parts up with rapid movement. She also had students dream they were flying and then had them move about the room with outstretched arms. They also put movement and imagination together as they drove a Lego car and pretended they were playing ball. She also worked on the word “above,” having youths throw a scarf above their head and catch it on various body parts.

“We see a lot of positive changes with the kids as a result of the program,” Waite said.

The Gower West preschool teachers note research has suggested a strong memory link for concepts when language is paired with movement.

Children get a lot out of the program, said Stokes, a former University of Southern California faculty member, who also volunteers as a choreographer at Christ Church in Oak Brook

“Kids enjoy it and they evolve so much,” Stokes said. “They enjoy it and improve their language skills as well.”

0 Comments

Do you have the scariest house on the block? Or the cutest kid in costume? Share your Halloween photos with us! Click here to submit them.


Modal