Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

What’s on the Menu: Early Childhood Programs & Services at ALA Annual

Can you believe it’s finally happening? The ALA Annual Conference is back! Soon, thousands of people who work in and support libraries will gather in Washington, D.C. to learn, network, and celebrate what we do. There are so many topics and events to be excited about. For today’s post I’ll be sharing some of the wonderful programming in store for people who work to serve young children and their families in library spaces. If you are interested too, read on!

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Baby & Preschool Music Programs & You

With Summer just around the corner, I see solicitations for programming ideas and suggestions everywhere. Aleah Jurnecka, a colleague of mine at Kitsap Regional Library, has hit gold with two of her music programs aimed at babies and preschoolers. I wanted to share her success and best practices so you too can confidentially add a baby or preschool music program to your library offerings this summer. Inspiration Aleah first started her music programs when she worked as a librarian at Los Angeles County Public Library in southern California. She had a diverse audience at her storytimes and noticed that many caregivers didn’t truly participate along with their babies unless it involved music. She “saw the need to break down the language and cultural barriers inherent with baby storytime” she told me, and that music had a way to transcend these barriers in such a way where anyone could do it….

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Bringing back toys

During my 28-year career in public libraries, I have seen children’s spaces evolve from no toys whatsoever, to some puzzles and games, to a full array of materials that promote creative and interactive play. We all know that play is the work of childhood (thank you, Mr. Rogers!) and the numerous benefits of toy-based learning: cause and effect, problem solving, imagination, fine and gross motor skill development, and creativity. Vital social emotional skills – sharing, communication, compromising, and making new friends – are also cultivated. Just as story times and early literacy programming inspire a love of reading, toys inspire a love of learning. As our libraries gradually resume pre-pandemic services, it is a delight to see the return of toys in children’s spaces. Larger furnishings such as drawing/writing stations, kitchens, puppet theaters, dollhouses, train and LEGO tables are moving back in. Free play vehicles, blocks, multi-cultural dolls, and puzzles…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Serving Expectant Parents & Families with Newborns From Where We Are Today

It is important that expectant parents and those with newborns know they are welcome at the library, even as pandemic precautions persist. Luckily, there is someone there to help them – YOU! Acknowledging them with a simple “hello” can be a high point of their day, especially if they are feeling overwhelmed. A sympathetic “some days are like that!” may lower the pressure when they are dealing with a fussy child. Life in the library is beginning to look more familiar as things begin to “open up more.”.  There are still precautions to take to make sure everyone stays safe and healthy until this pandemic is over. Keeping this is mind may have an impact on your library’s ability to do in-person programming and outreach for families with infants since they are at a higher risk. Programs may be offered as a series, once a month or quarterly. Keep your…

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Pandemic Programming: Connect & Play

In an effort to be responsive to community feedback, our library system resumed limited in-person early literacy activities in October 2021. Storytimes and a drop-in program we call “Connect & Play” are currently underway with a variety of risk-reducing COVID considerations. Connect & Play is a program we have been doing for many years. Here’s the play-by-play I’ve found makes for a successful experience for families in our current environment. Underpinning all the activities are the familiar early learning practices of “Talk, Play, Read, Write, Sing Together,” as well as the principles from Reimagining School Readiness, covered more in-depth in a previous ALSC blog post. Format: A 2-3 hour period where children 0-5 years old and their caregiver/s can drop in for as long as they like. Each week, participants engage with 4-5 stations that support different aspects of early literacy & learning. Each week, the specifics of each station…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

ECPS: New Year, New Projects

As 2021 draws to a close, it seems like just the right time to share a little bit about what the Early Childhood Programs and Services committee has been up to, and what our future plans are! This year has been a tricky one to navigate as a committee, as it surely has been for many readers. It took us some time to get settled as a group, and understand what is possible and useful as conditions changed for libraries. Our original project was to create an online education opportunity on the topic of trauma-informed services as they relate to early childhood and family services. For many reasons, this project was shelved for the time being, though we hope to return to it in the coming months. While a change of plans can be frustrating and feel like a defeat, our committee was fortunately able to focus on an important…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

“I didn’t know the library did that!” Building Better School Partnerships

“I didn’t know the library did that!” How many times have you heard that…this week? Press releases, emails, posters and skywriting do nothing to break through the advertising noise in our communities. Libraries are essential third spaces in our communities so the question is, how can libraries promote our services so people instead say, “Did you know the library did that?” This is especially true when it comes to collaborations with the schools in our service areas. Schools are busy Teachers are busy and they don’t always have time to meet. Administrators wear a lot of different hats and can’t always pass along the emails we send. Add to that a global pandemic, and libraries struggle to show teachers and schools our relevance. What is your goal? Our department’s end goal was to reach more kids through partnerships with teachers. We visit 60 classes a month and reach 1100 students. Most…

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A Barn Full of Stories

There is a barn in a park filled with children and their families, a gigantic pumpkin and stories… At Wilsonville Public Library, the Youth Services team that I work with had many discussions, probably very similar to discussions heard in other libraries across the county, how best to bring back in-person storytimes.  And probably, like many of the other libraries across the country, we would develop a plan and ready ourselves to implement the plan. But then we would be faced with yet another new pandemic health concern which made us reconsider for the sake and safety of our community. And we would pause on bringing back in-person storytimes.  The pause was difficult since we were repeatedly asked by our community for the start date of in-person storytimes.  Our community understood and truly appreciated our caution for starting up again, but it was disheartening to say, “not quite yet”, again…