I think in general, when you present an idea, and you deliver it with enthusiasm, they will also be enthusiastic. You can give your reasoning as to why you are changing it up and then tell them why they will be excited about it (like, their kids will love the new craft time that will follow story time), etc. I think in general, the parents will accept the change pretty easily. And, I think it is very healthy to introduce children to change!
Giving the Facts, Jack
- I think if you explain the "why" behind a program change, the parents are better able to understand it. We recently changed the format of our Baby Tots program to include learning a new nursery rhyme each month. We shared our research with parents and explained the importance of learning nursery rhymes for early literacy success. While this meant less social play time for the little ones, parents were on board with the change.
- I usually start with my core families, let them know that I have something that I think is going to work really well for them and I'm sure that they will want to check it out. I know that your boys are really interested in _________ so you are going to love this! Then I give everyone involved the the information (usually a flyer) ahead of time so that if the change takes place next week they can get used to the idea and not be shocked coming in. I alway try to let them know that we have good reasons for the change. We have your children's best interest in mind.
Keep Things Changing
-I have to say we try things all the time. My parents like the variety, they just go with the flow, as well as the kids. In fact, the month of March we are not doing story-time, but we are creating book bundles which will have four books, one take home activity, a list of other books for the theme, and song and fingerplay suggestions. We are also offering a reading challenge this month (March Madness) can you read 100 books in the month of March (ages preschool-4th grade) and can you read 25 books in the month of March for ages 5th grade and up.
- In my old library, one of the weekly story times I did was a class visit from our local Head Start classroom. The teachers had been in that classroom for many years and were used to their set routines. The first time they came to visit me, which was the first week of school with all-new students, the head teacher yelled at them all to "sit down and shut up, the library is for quiet kids." I was horrified. I had planned 2 stories, a few songs, a felt board, and a craft for them to do. Not a single child sang along or tried to answer any of my questions to the group because they were so scared. Starting the second week, I began my story time by telling them all that the library was for having fun with stories, not for being quiet. I gave them a library tour and we talked about how the library was closed during their visits so the only patrons in the library were from their school. Then I told them that I needed their help in telling some of the stories and singing the songs each week, which got them much more relaxed an interested in participating.
- I feel like the families at my library are just itching for more hands on activities. Craft time is the children's and the parents' favorite part of storytime every week, even if it's just free form coloring. I feel like as soon as I decided to offer something more hands on like a messy art hour or parachute play, they'd be all over it. I think what I'd do is maybe offer a little bit of an overlap. I'd do part storytime, part hands on and totally different. That way I could possibly transition those parents who are a little skeptical of any educational value of a format that doesn't involve lots of storytelling into seeing how great the other programming format could be for them. Sometimes people need to see to believe. I feel like after one program, they and their kids would be all about something different. Changing things up even a little can really make kids excited!