Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Preschool Outreach Success Stories
Strategy - We have gone to the various daycares and have done storytimes and also talked about the library. A couple of the daycares do bring some children to one of our three weekly stortyimes. In the summer, some of the daycares bring the children to the weekly performances. Last year, we started up a parent/teacher section which makes it easier for the daycare providers to find materials. We also ordered a few home schooling magazines which we keep in the same area.
Consistency - Every month I do about 28-30 outreach story times (this also includes the elementary schools too) each month. In August, I contact all the daycares, preschools and teachers from the previous year. We schedule a monthly appointment (such as the first Wednesday of every month). I type a confirmation letter with each months visit date and time and mail it to them. I feel like this is the most successful way for me to reach the preschoolers! I make up one story time for outreach each month, use it over and over again (yes, I could read these stories in my sleep) and I do an easy craft with most of them. It just depends on the class or facility. It is a great way get story time to kids that have working parents and busy families and may not get into the library regularly.
Emotional Payoff - The outreach that was most successful was that to preschools/daycares. These settings are perfect for a standard storytime, so it's an easy thing to squeeze into a busy schedule. Also, the kids are so excited and receptive that there is great emotional payoff for this sort of outreach.
Give 'Em Nonfiction! - I often use preschool outreach as an opportunity to showcase some great new nonfiction books - often ones with photographs. I don't read them all the way through - just paraphrase the interesting bits and show some really cool pages. Because of budgets, many schools and daycares really stick to the tried and true picture books, and I always hope that teachers will be inspired by my selections to a). visit the library to check out titles for their kids and b). ask me for suggestions - especially for nonfiction. Occasionally, instead of a craft, I bring a simple hands-on activity for the kids. For example, squirts of two colors of paint gels in a (well-taped) ziplock bag for kids to mix. And q-tips so they could write or draw on the gel bags once they were done mixing.
Less is More - One thing to consider - outreach to the same location doesn't have to be weekly or monthly! See how it might fit into a busy schedule. Maybe it's only once a year or once in fall and once in spring. Just making that effort to meet people halfway by going out here and there makes a difference. We visit our daycares and classrooms in selected grades only once a year (beyond SLP promo visits). It is a treat for the kids - and us - and keeps time used reasonable and do-able!
On-the-Road Storytime- We have 4 Headstart classrooms and 4 daycare centers. I visit each one once a month by packing up my Storytime for the week and "taking it on the road." I love going into their locations and see children that don't get to the library. I also make a point to say hi to the kids that do visit the library. The daycare personnel love for me to take over for a few minutes each month, but the hard part is seeing the conditions that aren't always the best. I have scheduled Thursdays as my outreach day.
Graphic courtesy of Pixabay