First, let me thank you for visiting Meddybemps.com. If you and the young children in your life have enjoyed this site, Susan and I are pleased. If our content has helped your children build learning skills here and there, we are delighted.
This site was launched on October 31, 1995. We are proud of what we have accomplished in these eighteen years.
Before I launched the site, I submitted manuscripts and illustrations to a number of children's picture book publishers. Eventually, I became impatient with the lengthy submission process, intense competition, and polite rejection notices that are part of traditional book publishing. The new World Wide Web offered a way to self-publish. I could share my work with children and parents without waiting years to get a few thousand copies of a single book published.
I built a site around the first stories and decided to invent some playful learning activities (inspired, I'm sure, by being married to an early childhood educator). It was then that Susan and I realized our site could offer its visitors more than entertainment. Parents and teachers could use it to help young children develop critical developmental skills while they were having fun.
Susan contributed guides for parents and teachers to help them understand how children learn. Parents could now take an active role in their child's development. I invited reviewers at a few early portal sites to take a look. They liked what they saw and established links to meddybemps.com. As the months and years went by, word spread about the site. Libraries recommended it. Teachers used it in thier classrooms. Parents explored it with their children. We added new content. Every year, the traffic increased.
Today, the site is large, friendly and fairly simple to navigate. An average of more than 50,000 unique visitors view the site each month. More than 200,000 visited during one October. The numbers also jump around Easter. That's a lot of children, not counting the parents, siblings or teachers looking over their shoulders.
The site is well respected by parents and educatiors. Close to 6,000 other sites (many from far corners of the world) provide links to meddybemps.com. Many include glowing reviews. Some have made us especially proud. Reviewers for the International Reading Association (IRA) named Chateau Meddybemps the third best phonics site for children. A book called 101 Best Sites for Elementary Teachers placed our site among the top seven language arts sites.
Creating and maintaining this site has led us to great experiences, such as presenting a workshop on Creative and Playful Paths to Literacy to a standing-room-only crowd at the 2004 NAEYC conference with Mary Jo Huff. Another was being invited to present a workshop on using our site to build literacy at the 2006 International Reading Asociation Conference. We even had the pleasure of reading stories to our grandchildren's kindergarten and First Grade Classes last Spring.
But a single event a few months ago really let us know that we were succeeding in our fundamental mission of helping parents and teachers build children's learning skills. We received the following email message from a parent in Milford, Connecticut.
"First I want to say, thank you, thank you Mr & Mrs. Jindrich!
I am the mother of two girls, ages 9 and 2 3/4.
"My 9 year old was always ahead of the game during the learning process. Early talker, walker - etc. So teaching her ABC's and 123's was a breeze. By 2 she had mastered that stuff as well as her colors, most shapes and spoke clearly in over 5 word sentences. In addition to being completely potty trained.. At 3 she started Head Start, where she absolutely excelled.
"It hasn't been that easy with my 2 year old. She walked later, talked later and doesn't seem interested in sitting down to learn ABC's or to at least let mommy read her a book.
"She is a playful joyous little thing who just enjoys having a good time.
"One of those, bright-eyed-melt-your-heart, little people. Lately, I have become increasingly concerned with the fact that she still can not say all of her ABC's, colors - shapes, etc. Her fine motor skills are exactly where they should be and her speech is age appropriate. So, I know she is fine developmentally.
"I have been looking online for some great toys that will get her involved and teach her at the same time. I've been looking for great software, anything that she can connect with.
"I took out tons of books from the library to research how toddlers learn,etc. Well, while at the library I found a book called 'Family-Friendly Web Sites', I borrowed this book for my older child, but came across the site www.meddybemps.com.
"I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I kept thinking, 'why do they do this for free?' After reading about the creators, I understand why and again, I thank you.
"The day after I found your site, I felt like a new mommy. I understand now, that she doesn't need a sit down formal education to learn, and she doesn't need some $50 computer toy - she can learn while being the carefree, energetic, naturally curious little thing that she is.
"I got started on the ABC scrapbook right away and we have gotten to the letter D. We have used old magazines, newspaper and a cereal box. Do you know today, she opened her book and pointed to the first page and said 'A'? My baby recognized A in 2 days!!!
"She kept shoving the book in her dad's face and saying, 'Me did it daddy, me made dish (this) wit mommy.'
"Your site is the best thing I have come across in years. Such terrific information for parents and teachers, wonderful games for the wee people...just A+ all the way around. You all have covered everything. I wasn't even thinking about biggest, smallest and the other concepts and stages of learning. I've been so focused on the 123, ABC - etc.
"I will continue to use your site, and will recommend it to all my fellow mommies. I'm actually heading back to the site, after I am done writing this email.
"Thank you again, and [my daughter] thanks you too for helping Mommy have an 'A-Ha' moment.
Was building and adding to the site for eighteen years worth the effort? Yes.
Would we do it again? Yes.
Will we continue? Absolutely.
Look for new stories and activities, more animation and interactivity, maybe even some sound and video. There's no telling what surprises lie ahead. I might even start submitting manuscripts to children's book publishers again.
Watch this space. The next few years should really be something!