Blogger Building Partnerships committee

Children’s Librarians are Experts at …School Readiness

The King County Library System has been partnering with its local Child Care Resources to bring Kaleidoscope Play and Learn to the communities we serve.

Kaleidoscope Play and Learn participant

Kaleidoscope Play & Learn is a school readiness program coordinated by Washington State’s Child Care Resources.  Many children ages birth to 5 are not enrolled in formal early learning programs or licensed child care.   The purpose of Kaleidoscope Play & Learn (KP&L) is to work with family, friend and neighbor caregivers, and parents to provide support in preparing their children for success in school and life through quality early childhood experiences.  The program consists of weekly, facilitated groups of 90 minutes or more.  Each session begins with child-directed play and concludes with a coordinated large group activity.  At the library the large group activity is story time, of course!  Children and caregivers participate in open-ended, child-directed play, choosing from a variety of play centers, which together support the different areas of development (cognitive, social-emotional, language, fine-gross motor).

Kaleidoscope Play and Learn participant

Every session includes intentional caregiver learning.  The facilitators also provide intentional opportunities for caregiver leadership, whether it be by encouraging a caregiver to share a story or song or to welcome and engage new participants.   Organizations providing KP&L sessions commit to offering sessions in accordance with the Guidelines.  Child Care Resources also provides curriculum lessons on a variety of topics.  (In fact, the early literacy lessons were created by myself and CiKeithia Pugh, the Early Learning Program Coordinator at Seattle Public Library based on the content of Every Child Ready to Read 2.)

At the King County Library System, we provide sessions through a variety of partnerships.  We have facilitators that we hire and contract with to provide sessions in English and Spanish.  As a formal partner, Child Care Resources provides the training for new facilitators.  In addition, we partner with outside agencies, including the CISC who provide their own facilitators and materials, while we provide the space for those sessions at our libraries.  This enables us to provide additional sessions in Chinese.  Our library staff regularly visit all of the sessions to share a story time, in addition to information about library resources and programs with those in attendance.

A mother and daughter at Kaleidoscope Play and Learn group

The power of the Kaleidoscope Play & Learn program is that it allows us to engage families and communities in children’s school readiness.  Ongoing evaluations show significant, positive outcomes for this program.  We support all caregivers in helping their children be ready for school and life!

Maren Ostergard is a member of the Building Partnerships committee and is the Early Learning Librarian at the King County Library System.


This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group, III. Programming Skills, and V. Outreach and Advocacy.

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