Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K is for . . .


There are several ways that libraries can get children ready for kindergarten. Many of these things we are already doing, so yay us!

The first way to get kids ready for kindergarten is being a place that offers books. We do this and do it well! When my son was a year away from kindergarten we asked the principal of his future school what we could do to get him ready for kindergarten. Her answer to him! Libraries are helping families get books into the hands of preschoolers.

Another way that libraries can help prepare kids is teaching parents about early literacy. We (the so-cal bloggers) have mentioned this often, but providing parents with early literacy information is a great way to help kids get ready to read. Teaching the parents how to play word games, that introducing their kids to new words helps them learn to read, etc.

Another way to get the kids ready for kindergarten and reading is singing the alphabet and point to the letters as they sing. Each storytime, starting with toddlers storytime, I pass out a laminated sheet that has the alphabet and as we sing we point to our letters. This way the kids learn what each letter looks like and are ready to start putting those letters together to make words when they enter kindergarten. I do other letter games with the kids during storytime, which I will post at another time.

When I first started as a Children's librarian, the youth coordinator for our system told us that encouraging preschool aged kids to use scissors was important. I thought that this was funny and not really relevant, until I had teen volunteers help with craft prep by cutting out some of the hard pieces. They couldn't cut, at least well! I was shocked. So, after that I started having pieces that the kids needed to cut during crafts following preschool storytime. Nothing fancy, straight lines, squares, circles. Usually only one or two pieces of the craft, but enough to give them practice. I also tell the parents that this is a time for the kids to practice cutting. That said, there are still many parents who cut the pieces for their children.

Aside for the academic preparations, by attending storytimes, kids learn that there are rules that need to be followed, they learn to sit and listen and follow directions, and they learn how to interact with other kids. Many parents value these skills learned at storytime more than any others.