Several years ago as a response to the community’s request and as part of Wilsonville Public Library ‘s strategic plan to “Advance the Library as a community focal point and resource hub,” the library’s youth services team developed a weekly playgroup. This program has proven to be a well-attended and a valuable resource in the community for parents and caregivers of young children to connect and for children to explore the power of play.
How Playgroup works at Wilsonville Public Library—
Each Monday morning, library staff set up the library’s largest meeting room with a variety of toys. These items for Playgroup are purchased from our library’s program supplies budget. The following items were selected to promote growth and learning in several different areas–
- Imaginative Play
- Including Play Kitchen, Puppet Theater, Dolls
- Sensory Stimulation
- Includes Foam Blocks and Sensory Toys
- Gross Motor Skills and Eye-Hand Coordination
- Includes Ball Games and Floor Puzzle
- Exercise and Muscle Building
- Includes Riding Balls and Floor Mats
- Fine Motor Skills
- Including Blocks, A Coloring Station, and Matching Games
- Early Literacy and Reading
- A Reading Corner with comfortable seating and plenty of books
Parent volunteers help tremendously with the oversight of this program, and they also bring their young children with them to enjoy the playgroup fun! Two of our original volunteers were instrumental in getting our Playgroup started. Our wonderful volunteers support the program with the following–
- Sign in parents/caregivers and their children.
- Register parents/caregivers new to the program, to sign a waiver to release the library from liability. Library staff keeps the completed waivers on file for the duration of Playgroup (usually the school year) so parents/caregivers only need to complete one waiver per year.
- Pass out healthy snacks to participating children.
- Clean up after the program.
Comments from parents and caregivers about Playgroup—
- “This program has enriched my child’s life. Because this program is free-form, my child has the flexibility to explore at his own pace. He tries out new toys and interacts with other kids. It’s fun and safe and the healthy snack is a good feature. It also encourages him to clean up after himself. It’s great to have an indoor program available for young children” (It rains quite a bit in our area during the fall/winter/spring months…)
- “This program provides an opportunity for children from different age groups to play with each other. The program promotes different aspects of Early Literacy. And parents can meet and interact with each other.”
- “This program allows a lot of families to connect to one another and gives them a chance to possibly meet up outside the library. As a volunteer with my child accompanying me to playgroup, this gives my young child an opportunity to sample volunteering and being responsible.”
What we’ve learned about Playgroup—
- This program is relatively easy to replicate and will flex depending on what you have for space availability. In fact, Wilsonville’s Playgroup moved to another location during a recent renovation of the library and adapted to that space during the renovation.
- With the support of parent volunteers, library staff involvement for this program can be fairly minimal. We look for parents/caregivers already participating in the program as possible volunteer candidates.
- Change up the offering of toys but keep the favorites! We recently purchase new toys using funding from Oregon’s Ready to Ready Grant and highlighted the new toys in the “Discovery Corner” of Playgroup. We surveyed the parents/caregivers about the new toys and found the new toys to be very popular with caregivers and children alike. We were in the process of weeding out some of the toys that had been used for several years but with the suggestion of our volunteers we kept a couple these items because they were still well loved favorites.
- By offering Playgroup in our community, Wilsonville Public Library is able to meet the ALSC Competency of Commitment to Client Group: Cultivating an environment for enjoyable and convenient use of library resources, specifically removing barriers to access presented by socioeconomic circumstances, culture, privilege, language, gender, ability, and other diversities.
Have fun starting up your library’s Playgroup!
Youth Services Librarian
Wilsonville Public Library