I have started at a new center; it is my first time working in a corporate center, and my lead teacher is generally displeased with everything I do.
There is a little boy who often requests that I sit beside him during meals and read a book he has chosen, or that I re-read a book I'd read to any interested children earlier, and even that I read to him outside.
These are the most positive interactions I have with this child, and while I am reading to him and the other children at the table, they are involved in thoughtful conversation about the topic; outside they incorporate what they have heard and seen into their play and discuss it with me when we go back indoors (and I had been deliberately selecting books that tied into the topic they were exploring, which the lead teacher had not chosen to do).
Today I was reprimanded for agreeing to the little fellow's request of "can you read is something while we're eating?" Her reasoning was that NAEYC doesn't want us to read to the children while they're eating.
If this is what a child is asking me to do, and it is almost the ONLY time this particular child approaches me with a direct request to interact with him in a specific way, do I tell her that it's more important to me to respond positively to him when HE is displaying this positive, curious, pro-social behaviour (instead of having to be redirected, which is the bulk of the rest of the daily interactions between the two of us) or say "oh, ok, you said NAEYC doesn't want me to read to a child at the table, so I just won't do that?"
I should also add that last week the reasoning she gave was "then they'll never leave the table," so needless to say, I'm more than a bit irritated by the lack of consistency. If someone can point me to specific passages in the standards that state "thou shalt not read," I'll be more than happy to explain to the children who want to hear interesting and thought provoking, appropriate literature and non-fiction reading material in the relaxed, intimate setting of a meal or to take a break from running and playing outside for a minute, "nope, the rule makers said you can't hear any books while you eat, because it's inappropriate."
Hello Elaina-May,Thank you for reaching out.There is nothing in the current NAEYC Best Practices or Site Visit Assessment items that would prohibit the reading of books during snack and meal times.
In topic area 3.D, the NAEYC best practices speak to the use of time, grouping, and routines to achieve learning goals. Specifically addressing meal times, it is recommended that
"…during meal or snack times, one or more teachers sit and eat with toddlers, twos, and preschoolers; the adults engage the children in conversation. For kindergartners, even during snack and mealtimes that occur in cafeterias, much learning takes place when teachers or other adults (lunchroom staff, parent volunteers) sit, eat, and converse with the children." (NAEYC, 2018, P.44)
The reading of books during meal or snack times is not specifically addressed or mentioned. However, it is important to note that one of the learning goals for young children is to learn socially appropriate behavior (NAEYC, 2018, P.42). If there are classroom, program, and/or family expectations about what is and is not appropriate behavior at meal or snack times it is important that teachers are consistent in their management of these expectations. For example, are all children permitted to read books with a teacher at snack time or participate in a group reading during snack time, or is this a something only this one particular child is allowed to do?
Going beyond the initial question of whether there are NAEYC standards that would prohibit the reading of books at meal or snack times, your inquiry speaks to other teaching practices and strategies that are supported by the NAEYC standards.
For example, within the NAEYC Standard on Curriculum there is an entire topic area devoted to Early Literacy in which varied opportunities for early literacy throughout the programming day are supported.
"Preschool and kindergarten children should have books read to them at least twice a day in full-day programs, and at least once daily in half-day programs. Children must be able to explore books on their own and have places that are conducive to the quiet enjoyment of books. The book selection should include various types of books, including storybooks, factual books, books with rhymes, alphabet books, number/counting books, and wordless books. Teachers should read in an engaging manner, sometimes to individual children, sometimes to small groups (two to six children), and sometimes to large groups. They should help children identify the various parts of books and differentiate print from pictures. Some books should be read on repeated occasions, and children should have chances to retell and reenact events in storybooks. The curriculum should link books to other topics in the curriculum." (NAEYC, 2018, P.24)
Additionally, within the NAEYC Standard on Teaching there are recommended best practices related to instructional practices that support children's positive learning experiences in the early childhood setting. This includes creating caring communities of learning in which "teachers develop individual relationships with children by providing care that is responsive, attentive, consistent, comforting, supportive, and culturally sensitive." (NAEYC, 2018, P.41)
Topic Area 3.E addresses various ways that teaching staff modify the learning environment, instructional approaches, and scheduling to meet the interests and needs of children. This includes scaffolding children's learning by ensuring that teaching staff are available when needed and intentionally arranging learning activities, schedules, and materials to support learning and development across the curriculum. (NAEYC, 2018, P.44)
NAEYC (2018). NAEYC Early Learning Program Accreditation Standards and Assessment Items. Retrieved from http:// https://www.naeyc.org/sites/default/files/globally-shared/downloads/PDFs/accreditation/early-learning/standards_and_assessment_web_0.pdf