It is almost time for NAEYC’s annual Week of the Young Child! Week of the Young Child (WOYC) is an annual, week-long celebration of children birth to 8, their families and the professionals who serve them. NAEYC wants to highlight how important early experiences are and honor all the adults who work to provide them. NAEYC designates themes for each day, but any celebration of early childhood is appropriate. Lots of early childhood care facilities and organizations celebrate WOYC in some way, and libraries can get involved too. If you are wanting to celebrate WOYC at your library, here are some things to think about.
Programs or Events Probably too late for most libraries to add any programming for next month, but go ahead and get it on your radar for next year’s programs. It can be as simple as incorporating the themes into storytime or offering a special play event. You may want to consider offering a speaker or training for adult family members and/or care providers. This would also be a good week to book a special performer if you have the funding. Do take note of any other events going on in your community to maximize your audience. If there is already a coalition or organization that is focusing on WOYC, see if you can partner. Some communities do play days or resource fairs that your library could be a part of or perhaps you could provide space for an event.
Displays Displays are a great visual way to celebrate WOYC. A display of picture books of families or all-about-me books would be appropriate. Think about doing displays of parent resource books or books on child development. Working with any adult services staff in your library to put displays in the adult sections helps to get the word out too.
Education One purpose of WOYC is to spread the message about how critical the first years are for children but also for our communities. If you are comfortable, share information about child development with those who may not be as familiar. For the last few years, I have sent an email to all staff in our system every day of the week on a different early childhood topic. I do a discussion of the topic, include some links and point out all the ways the library supports it – including how non-youth staff are making these experiences possible too. There could also be opportunities to write articles to local publications or speak at community meetings. Not everyone needs to feel pressure to step into this role, but for those who do feel knowledgeable and comfortable, see what your options are.
Social Media WOYC is a great chance to promote your excellent programs and services for young children and families. Follow organizations like NAEYC, Zero to Three, Jumpstart and others so you can forward on what they post. Of course, follow your library’s social media policies and work with the staff or team who manage social media accounts.
Just Say Thanks Say thank you to all the professionals your library works with that serve young children. Drop off a thank you card to any care providers (day cares, preschools, etc. and don’t forget in-home providers) telling them you appreciate the work they do or create a large card on a bulletin board to let all the adults who come to the children’s space know how important they are. And don’t forget your staff – library workers are early childhood professionals too!
What has your library done to celebrate WOYC? Share ideas in the comments!
Stephanie Smallwood is the early literacy specialist at the Springfield-Greene County Library District in Springfield, Missouri. Smallwood wrote this piece as a member of the ALSC Early Childhood Programs and Services committee.
This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: Commitment to Client Group and Outreach & Advocacy.