Several years ago, before the COVID-19 outbreak, Invest in Children, a community wide public/private partnership administered by the Cuyahoga County Office of Early Childhood, and the United Way of Greater Cleveland came to the two largest library systems in Northeast Ohio (Cleveland Public Library (CPL) and Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL)—the largest suburban system for which I work) with an idea. Although delayed thanks to the pandemic, the first FamilySpace location opened in September 2022 at CCPL’s Garfield Heights Branch, and three other locations (two in each system total) followed. The response has been positive, to say the least.
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rogers What an amazing session this afternoon at #alsc22 on “True Play” presented by Carissa Christner and Holly Storck-Post from Madison Public Library. They led us on a play exploration to begin with: can you recall a favorite memory of play from your childhood? Stop and think for a moment. Did adults tell you how to play? True Play is deep and uninterrupted engagement in the activity of one’s own choice. Sounds simple doesn’t it?? And indeed, simplicity is a key factor. They reviewed the history of play at their library, from play literacy (themed type activities), playful activities in storytime (though still adult designed), and talked about the importance of play. Did you know that for young children movement…
The Impact of Play During Library Programming
Aren’t articles that remind us why we choose to work in youth services rewarding? While a simple search brings up a plethora of information on the impact of early childhood programs on educational attainment and quality of life, research that supports instructional approach and ties the approach to outcomes are compelling. In the past few years a handful of studies arose that questioned the veracity of research related to early educational impact, postulating that the benefits fade by third grade and public investment is a waste. However, that’s not quite the whole picture. It turns out the approach to teaching children in preschools, and other organizations that impact early development-such as libraries, is the deciding factor on whether a program is a good investment of time and resources. This new era of research looks at the differences in instructional approaches in preschools and compares play-based learning to a more traditional…
Play With Babies in Library Spaces
Play is quite possibly my favorite of the five Early Literacy Practices. Not only because it has the boundless freedom to surprise and delight, but also because it naturally incorporates the other 4 practices – talk, sing, read, and write. When you play, especially with a playmate, talk is a natural part of the fun. If you’re anything like me, you also often make up songs about what you’re doing. Playing games such as I spy or tic-tac-toe incorporate reading and writing. There is just so much possibility with play, and I find that endlessly exciting.
Bringing Back Play
This past month, my library system has allowed certain toys (plastic, easily washed) to come back on the floor and to be used in programming, with daily (or more) cleaning. Parents and children alike are delighted, and library staff rejoiced that our baby playtimes can return. Several branches are designated Family Place Libraries, and we had been holding socially distanced “play” programs that aimed to give parents tools to guide their children in play, but which were certainly not as robust and developmentally appropriate as a full playtime.
Our Kids Learning from Play
One of the key tenets of Early Literacy is play. Play is an integral part in a child’s development. Play allows children to use their creativity to decipher the world around them and build critical thinking and problem solving skills. As librarians and educators, we use play in various programs to engage children in learning and reading. Play is how kids learn! But research tells us that it isn’t just physical play that is important to learning. Play also includes digital play, creative play, and playing with language through music and movement. Digital play has become just as important as physical play. Kids retrieve information from the internet as well as from books. This is true now more than ever before. In Research in Brief: Digital Play in Early Childhood Education: Supporting Children’s Relational Information Literacy research conducted by Theobald et. al. observed how digital play helped foster children’s…
A Different Library of Things
When kids are given the opportunity to freely explore, children will more easily learn the valuable 21st century skills they need for the constantly changing future. Libraries can encourage talents such as creative problem solving, teamwork, entrepreneurship and resource sharing through a Library of Things.
Play Areas in Libraries
Indoor Playground? Early Learning Area? Playland? Seventh Circle of the Underworld? Play areas for the youngest library patrons are most common in public libraries, although some school libraries have them as well. They range from the simple: an area rug with a train table or puppet theater and some puzzles; to the elaborate: dedicated themed spaces, with corporate sponsors, that are changed out on a quarterly basis. With our recently completed remodel and expansion my library created a new, dedicated, larger space for creative play. It has quickly become one of the most popular spots in the library. There are busy times where we have upwards of 40 people (children and caregivers) in the space at once. Mornings are usually the most hectic. It can be quite lively at times. (Okay, maybe raucous is a more accurate descriptor.) Located in the youth services department, it offers an engaging,…