“Ossining Basics” Are a Key to Developing Early Literacy

An Ossining mother and her son paint together at the “Maximize Love, Manage Stress” station at an “Ossining Basics” event.

The “Ossining Basics” program brought together parents, young children and staff from the Ossining School District and partner groups Nov. 5 to practice the fundamentals of early literacy and becoming school-ready.

Youngsters learned new vocabulary, danced, expressed their emotions, counted, created artwork and more as they practiced the Ossining Basics, which are five principles parents can use to stimulate language and cognitive development at home. Eighty percent of brain development takes place in the first three years of life.

The principles are:

  • Maximize Love, Manage Stress
  • Talk, Sing and Point
  • Count, Group and Compare
  • Explore through Movement and Play
  • Read and Discuss Stories
Norma Asanza and her granddaughter, Mia Montero, play together in the play farm area at an “Ossining Basics” event.

The school district and community first launched the Ossining Basics program several years ago. Staff from the Ossining Public Library, Little Steps/Primeros Pasos, Park School and the Guidance Center of Westchester ran different stations at the event in Nelson Sitting Park. Each represented one of the principles. The “Talk, Sing and Point” table, for example, had fox, owl and squirrel puppets and stuffed animals and introduced words like “swoop,” “soar” and “climb.”

Synara Okyne-Aryee, First Steps/Primeros Pasos program coordinator, was at the “Maximize Love, Manage Stress” table, which had painting and dancing activities. She led children in a song about showing different emotions through dance.

“With my hands, with my arms, with my hips and my heart, with my eyes, with my knees, I will show you how I feel,” she sang as she moved the different body parts in turn.

Lisa Schwab and her husband, Jefferson Rodriguez, brought their 3-year-old daughter, Julianna Rodriguez, to the event. “It’s a nice way to get the kids out of the house and they get to interact with other kids. It’s really nice to see,” she said.

Norma Asanza attended the event with 3-year-old , her granddaughter, who particularly enjoyed playing with the plastic eggs in the farm area. Ms. Asanza prompted Mia to count the eggs and identify different colors.

“It’s very nice, very fun. The children learn a lot of things,” the grandmother said.

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