By Chris Kieffer
VERONA – Zeneiasha Darden stood near a table at Verona Elementary School on Thursday night and watched her son work an alphabet puzzle.
Spread in front of Ketraden Conaway, 5, a kindergarten student at the school, were halves of ladybug shells containing various upper- and lower-case letters. In order to form the complete insect, he had to match the correct pairs.
The event was one of many spread throughout the school during its Family Reading night, designed to promote literacy and parental involvement and to show parents activities they can do at home with their children.
“It shows the school cares,” Darden said. “That makes the kids want to do better.”
Darden said the benefit of the night was that it broke down several topics and made them easy to understand. That is particularly helpful, she said, given that Ketraden is her first child.
“It also taught me how to teach him,” she said.
About 100 people attended Thursday’s event, which was organized by kindergarten teacher Alice Maynard Griggs. The kindergarten students and their families rotated through four rooms, including one staffed by volunteers from Excel By 5.
The stations included hands-on activities, a math puzzle, a lesson on reading comprehension and an explanation of how to better prepare the children for the new Common Core State Standards.
“Our goal is getting the word out about changes and trends in education,” said Verona Principal Temeka Shannon.
All of the attendees received a Dr. Suess book donated by the Tupelo Civitan Club, Carey Snyder, Albine Bennett and Lisa Hawkins. They also received a sandwich from Subway, and some of them got a children’s CD from Steve Thompson.
“It was a good learning experience for the kids,” said Raheem Smith, father of kindergartner Caleb Polk.
Griggs said the event was geared to increase community and parental involvement.
“We wanted to let the parents see the importance of reading every night, especially with the new Common Core standards,” she said.