The Pillowcase Event

Did you know that the last words the brain hears before you fall asleep are what ‘sticks’, what the brain remembers?  For children this is most important. Growing up is hard work, and any good words are more than needed.  They’re necessary.

Pillowcases.  Bedtime.  Here’s the backstory:

I will never forget hearing Jeanine Fitzgerald speak about the pillowcase.  She is a Behavior Consultant and Specialist.  She works with children – the tough ones, at-risk children.  She also has her own school and is a presenter to teachers.  I was lucky to hear her tell the story of a child who was going to be taken away from her mother.  Jeanine was called in as a last resort.  She told the mother to write ten positive things on a pillowcase to say to her daughter, and read one of them aloud each night before her daughter falls asleep.

How simple.  Long story short, the mother did this faithfully every night.  She had to.  Her daughter blossomed and graduated tops in her class.  The mother had more children, and did the same thing with pillowcases for each one. Years later, she contacted Jeanine Fitzgerald to tell her this remarkable story.

If reading aloud those important words written on a pillowcase every night made a significant difference to a child at risk, think what it could do for every child.  Really!

I had a pillowcase event at school for families.

Children wore their PJ’s.  I passionately told parents how important it is for the brain to hear positive words before falling asleep. Parents and children were to decide – together – what words / phrases / terms of endearment would be most important and meaningful. Parents wrote the words.  Children decorated.

I strolled among the families and watched the bonding as they worked together to figure out their words.  You know how parents desperately want to slow down and have those moments with their child.  Well, that was happening in front of my eyes.  I was the fly on the wall.


The Pillowcase Event.  Best thing I have ever done for children and their families.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
This entry was posted in behavior, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, Love, preschool, self esteem, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to The Pillowcase Event

  1. Ritu says:

    Oh what a wonderful idea Jennie!

  2. Opher says:

    Another brilliant idea Jennie – you’re full of them!

  3. beetleypete says:

    Yet more inspired teaching. This time, you didn’t stop with the children, but gave the parents a valuable lesson too. I don’t think you are ever going to be able to retire, Jennie. You would be missed far too much, by too many. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  4. Pingback: The Pillowcase Event — A Teacher’s Reflections – SIOBHANNYHAN

  5. ksbeth says:

    I absolutely love this!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Beth. I highly recommend doing this with your kinders and their families. If you combine it with pajama day, all the better.

  6. That something so simple could make such a difference!

  7. Maggie says:

    What a beautiful and uplifting story. I would like to share it with the young moms on my Facebook page. What a great and innovative teacher!

  8. Brilliant idea! The story gave me goose bumps.

  9. Dan Antion says:

    How wonderful. Learn from an expert and apply what you learn. It doesn’t get any better than that.

  10. AnithaPeter says:

    Such a brilliant idea!!

  11. Oh my! I LOVE this idea! It would be a great project to do with my yoga kids! ❤

  12. Reblogged this on Not Tomatoes and commented:
    This is such a wonderful idea!

  13. What a wonderful idea, Jennie. I would have attended when my kids were growing up.

  14. Darlene says:

    What a splendid idea!!

  15. What a great idea, Jennie. Thank you for sharing.

  16. John Howell took the words right out of my mouth. I love this idea.

  17. srbottch says:

    Wonderful exercise, Jennie!

  18. This is such a wonderful idea! Thanks so much, Jennie. ❤ Must share!

  19. Thanks for the wonderful story and idea!

  20. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, this is an extraordinary idea!

    • Jennie says:

      I wish you had been a fly on the wall when I heard the story from Jeanine Fitzgerald. How could I not repeat doing the same thing with children and families?! It really is an extraordinary idea. Thank you, Charles!

  21. Jennie! You have done it again!!! Passing on and acting on brilliant information you get from someone in the know. I love this idea. It has ideas spinning in my head now. Most kids only hear what they did wrong each day. This way they sleep feeling good about who they are. Wow!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you so much, Marlene! It was only natural to take this brilliant and researched idea, and do this with families. If only every child could hear words of love and praise before falling asleep. You are so right. 🙂

  22. Norah says:

    What a simple but effective idea. Writing the words on the pillowcase is a great reminder. And what is also great about it is that the children can also read them for themselves. I hope it’s a tradition that gets passed down through the families. Perhaps the pillowcases may last a generation or two as well.

  23. iamthegreenestofblues says:

    So AMAZING! I am going to do this with my nieces and nephews! Thank you for all you do!

  24. dgkaye says:

    Brilliant Jennie. You are a wonderful educator ❤

  25. what a delightful concept and a wonderful keepsake. When putting my own children to bed, we would list all of the people that loved them. Sweet Dreams!

  26. petespringerauthor says:

    I wish I could like this wonderful story fifty times, Jennie. We all need (adults included) to feel valued and loved. The rewards come daily in education, but there are also the long term benefits that never get old. I’ve stayed in contact with many of my former students, and I treasure these relationships having been invited to many graduations, weddings, and even a housewarming party in the last month.

    Thank you for the countless lives you must have touched with this wonderful idea. I worked with a wonderful teacher who did a class quilt each year. Each student contributed a square and felt part of the class community.

    • Jennie says:

      Awww…that’s so nice, Pete. I know you feel the same way I do. Staying in touch is the best. Yup, went to a graduation yesterday. Those memories are near and dear to my heart. Again, thank you for your kind words. Making a quilt with children is a tremendous experience. I’ve done quite a few, and families still talk about it years later. I know you have experienced those many moments as well. We are the lucky ones!

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