When PBS decided to introduce, for the first time ever, a live host for its PBS Kids preschool block in September, it chose Chicago-based performer, teacher and mother Lori Holton Nash. She appears between programs to encourage kids to be active and to underscore the lessons taught in shows like Curious George. Miss Lori keeps the mood light and upbeat for preschoolers, leading them in song and dance. Kevin Downey recently practiced the letters Q&A with her.
What is your role as Miss Lori on PBS' preschool programming block?
PBS wanted to have a guide who would take children through the many curriculum-based entertainment activities: music and dance, and movement and games. And I'm there to help them learn the different themes in various programs.
Over the course of two hours, I focus on the many different things we touch upon: recycling, sharing, friendship, all those things. I lead children in a series of activities and games. We move, we listen to music or dance to music. We ask questions so kids feel like they're in a conversation.
What are the main educational lessons you teach in the preschool block?
At this age, it wouldn't be reading as much as it would be about letter and sound identification. They are all interested in seeing letters and numbers. We certainly support that. And we support the basic concepts, such as dealing with categorization, grouping and dealing with math.
Preschool is about foundation; it's not about specifics. It's about laying the groundwork from which they can build upon when they go to school.
How did you become Miss Lori?
PBS came to me. I've been doing programming for children for many years. A little over a year ago, I opened my own company in Chicago, C.A.M.P.U.S. [Celebrating Artistry Musicality Physicality United Successfully]. I really concentrate on providing recreational programming for children that is curriculum-enhancement in nature. So it was a perfect fit because we had the same mission.
How do you incorporate physical fitness into the preschool block?
Within the segments, we have built into each block a movement section. We also have built in a musical presentation. And, of course, many of the shows have musical segments.
In society today, it is terribly important that we reincorporate physical activity into our learning process. When I was coming up, it was a given that you went to the gym five days a week, you had recess, you had outdoor lunch. You were thrown out the door constantly to get outside and move.
Unfortunately, now [as I am] raising my children, that seems to have been eradicated from the educational system. PBS recognizes how incredibly important it is for kids to move. Not only because it's a health issue, but children at this age also learn through their body. If they can internalize a lesson and really physically act it out, it sticks and lasts longer.