Books, check. Craft, check. Apps, check. I’m getting ready to start a pilot project called Tablet Time. We’re scheduling it for seven branches, 4 sessions at each branch. Tablet Time is a way for families to get some hands-on experience with tablets while learning early literacy skills. I know this is a somewhat controversial subject: there are some who adamantly believe that libraries should not be promoting use of technology with young children. These programs are for families with children ages 3-6. While I agree that children under 2 really have no need to have a television, iPhone, or tablet in front of them, I do see the value in showing families good apps, how to use them with their children, and how to then extend those ideas into fun literacy games and crafts that they can do at home. And our Family Literacy funding agency must agree, because they gave me money to run these programs.
Here’s the structure of our Tablet Time programs: Share a book, then do a literacy-based craft that families can take home and repeat, introduce an app that is based on or relates to the book we shared, and then hands-on time with the iPads. Built in to the program is time for parents to spend engaging one-on-one with their child and a tablet, time to ask questions of the presenter, and time to explore new technology. Children are, however right or wrong you may feel it is, expected to have some hands-on knowledge of technology use when they enter school. I think if they learn that at the library, that’s not such a bad idea. Our program is designed to model for parents ways to interact with their children around books, literacy, and technology. Gentle reminders about balance between technology and other activities will be stressed at each session.
So I’m nearly ready–I’ve got a stack of books, some new art supplies, and some great ideas for sharing literacy games with families, and iPads loaded with great early learning apps. Now I just need those eager families, and away we go!