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Ditch day

First Step Academy students and faculty swap uniforms for PJs during Pajama Day and Literacy Week
  • Students play close attention as they are read to during Pajama Day during the school’s Literacy Week at First Step Academy.

Guardian Lifestyles Editor

Published: Oct 23, 2013

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For the students and faculty at First Step Academy it was a much-needed ditch day — they ditched school uniforms for the opportunity to wear PJ’s to school for a day. While the kids showed off their favorite nighttime wear to friends, the idea behind the Pajama Day came with a serious message.

Pajama Day was held during the school’s annual Literacy Week celebration. It was an effort by the school’s faculty to model for students and parents what should be happening at home as literacy is a critical part of the child’s development, according to school vice-principal Dr. Renay Small. She said if children don’t know how to read, they won’t perform at their best potential in all other subject areas.

The vice-principal said if students want to be successful academically and in life, they have to know how to read.

“I’ve always tried to foster in them the importance of reading, because at the end of the day, reading carries over to all the other subject areas. They are not successful if they don’t know the basics of knowing how to read, because they have Math applications where they will have to solve word problems; science where they still have to read the text books and social studies where they also still have to read those text books, as well as all other subjects; so the success in those subject areas hinges on the fact that they know how to read,” said Dr. Small.

The vice-principal, who is in her first semester at the school, said she takes knowing how to read seriously, as does the school.

“We take literacy seriously on this campus and try to foster in our children a love for reading and also to encourage the parents because parental support is critical,” she said. “We use the Abeka system that focuses heavily on reading, so we always try to foster that love of reading, and not just reading because it’s something that they must do to be successful students, but we want them to find that it’s enjoyable and that learning new things is something fun to do — and that’s why we do the Pajama Day as well, because we want them to see that it’s fun.”

During their annual Pajama Day, Dr. Small said they delight in showing the children that they can don their PJs, have some milk and cookies and have fun while learning to read, being read to, or just being encouraged to read.

While the school’s administration takes pride in its annual Pajama Day ritual, Dr. Small said literacy should be a team effort, with the school doing its part and parents supporting the students at home and doing their part to ensure that the students are successful.

“In modeling it in the school, at home hopefully, the parents would also be reading to their children at bedtime in their pajamas. We may think that [it’s an American concept the idea of the bedtime story, but research has found that the more support the children have at home for what is done at school, the more successful the outcome would be, so we’re just trying to model for the parents what should be done, and offer a little act of encouragement to remind them that this is what they should be doing at home every day.”

In an effort to get the parents, grandparents and guardians involved in the process, they were encouraged to visit the school during Pajama Day to read to students. A first grade class also had a tent pitched in their classroom, and a parent actually crawled into the tent and read to the students.

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