I'm working on a presentation I'll be giving to parents of first graders at one of our Title I schools in the area on the importance of reading with your children and the actual nuts and bolts of HOW to read with your children. My first approach was "you all know why this is critically important," but after having a meeting with the woman who will be translating the presentation into Spanish, I completely revamped the presentation. The focus is now on empowering parents to claim their role as the first and most important teachers of their children-a point I drive home every single week in my infant storytime.
Forget about the transportation part for a minute. Forget about the 9000 things some kids are involved in. Parents are absolutely critical when it comes to how their children will value and view the public library. If they value the library, their children will value the library.
On the flip side, we have a fair number of school-aged kids whose parents I've never met. We're located on the edge of our downtown in a residential area. There are kids who come just about every single day after school to use our computers and check out books. These are kids who won't sign up for a program if we offered it, but if we had something going on that they could do independently or with little staff intervention? They'd do it.
I also never want to think of the library competing with other activities. Should we be mindful of the myriad of afterschool activities many of our school aged kids are engaged in? Yes. Should we be mindful of the fact most K-2nd graders are still just trying to get through the school day and are exhausted by the end? Yes. But we also need to remember not every kid is involved in 10000 other activities. We should be conceiving of and executing programs that fit within our organization's or department's goals and objectives (I know, I know, I bring this up a lot, but it's because I really believe it helps focus planning and keeps us mindful of why we're doing what we're doing!) and scheduling them accordingly while also taking into account what programs KIDS want-not what adults think they should do, but programs that challenge and support the interests of kids.
I love working with school-aged kids. They are just as much a patron as an adult (something some librarians who aren't fortunate enough to work with kids sometimes forget!). I have a unique opportunity as a non-teacher, non-parent adult in their lives to be a positive influence and meet them where they are.
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