Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Making Storytimes Count

In our discussion about bringing on board parents who might be reluctant to accept preschool programs beyond storytimes, the class also discussed how to change up their storytimes to make them more powerful!

Pump It Up -The person who held story time before me read 4 books and that was story time. Since then I have tried to offer songs, fingerplays, crafts, etc. into story times and I've tried to offer resources sheets to parents about the importance of not only reading to your child to help develop literacy skills, but the importance of play, talking, writing, listening, and interacting with your child and that all skills are needed to develop a good and confident reader, but they are important for the overall development of their child. So I guess my hope is that by slowly trickling the information to parents they will come to realize the importance of "it's not just a story time". 

Hands-On - It always drives me crazy when I hear of someone reading three or four books and calling that a storytime! I try to do as many hands on activities as I can (in addition to the fingerplays and songs you mentioned): we have made mini pizzas with English muffins; squeezed oranges to make juice; made popcorn with a stir-crazy popper; made a graph on the floor with bottle caps from kitty litter jugs; gone on "treasure" hunts in the library looking for numbers, etc. I like to get the children thinking and the parents involved.

Name Changer - We just changed our storytime names to little Movers (ages 10-23 months) and Bouncing Babies (birth-9 mos). I like shaking up names. Next up - what to call the 2 year old storytime besides Toddler and then there is Family Storytime, a very true, but snooze-y name!

Surveys - We're on storytime break for the next 2 weeks so this seemed like a great time to check in with my caregivers: am I communicating early literacy tips effectively, do you find the handouts useful (there's been discussion about eliminating handouts in all storytimes-I've been resisting and I'm happy to say my survey backs me up!), AND are you interested in other programs for this age group: technology-based, science/sensory, art, longer playgroups and a spot for suggestions.  I also asked what times and days of the week work best for them. And we're going to start tracking when we're seeing groups of under 5s in the department with their caregivers. 

Listening Ears - We have changed our storytime sessions with a new preschool program format with a new program called Learning to Listen. This program is a 10 minute length program and is designed for children to learn how to sit quietly, pay attention, and engage in the program (see why its only 10 minutes)? Although it’s a shorter program, patrons understand that it was a program which is engaging and helped their children in a future classroom setting.

Get PhysicalOur storytimes are very active, but not all parents and caregivers know that and no matter how I describe storytime, they stay away - worrying that their wiggly kids won't sit still. So I think my strategy for pitching to parents, would be to emphasize the hands-on, active nature of whatever program I was piloting - and any new programs I plan will be hands-on and active.  I don't think I'll have a problem convincing parents to try things. A classmate replied: I like your idea of using the wigglies to promote a different type of program. I've been in a number of systems that started more dance/exercise related programs, and they've been hugely popular. I think the trick is not convincing people to bring their kids, but explaining how the movement and dance relate to the library!

New Faces - I think it would be possible to sub in a preschool program once a month instead of a storytime. I know that it would captivate some of the families that already attend as well as introducing a whole other group of parents and groups to join in the fun. I'm thinking our unschooling, homeschooling, and smaller preschool groups would love to participate in a non storytime activity at the library.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay