This month we began our second round of Family Place Parent/ Child Workshops at the Logan Heights Library. Last year we were fortunate to become one of the first Family Place libraries in Southern California and we hosted our first Parent/Child Workshop for parents/caregivers and children ages birth to 3 years old.
The core component of our program is the 5 week Parent/Child Workshop where we provide developmentally appropriate toys and activities for children to learn and develop through play. We also conduct early literacy activities and craft activities for young children. Another component of this workshop, is connecting parents and caregivers to resource specialists with experience in different areas such as child development, nutrition, speech, play, and art. During our sessions children and parents play together in various stations and specialists circulate, chat with parents and answer any questions they may have regarding their child's development. We also provide an informational table with free books and informational resources regarding additional services available in the community for families with young children.
We normally have 11 to 15 families participating in the workshops once per week for a period of 5 weeks. The goal of the program is to promote learning through play, provide a special time where parents interact and bond with their child, facilitate a space where parents and young children can meet socialize and interact with other families and connect parents with other library and community resources available to them. Last year this program received a very positive response and lead to the highest Summer Reading Program participation of babies and toddlers at our branch. When we evaluated this program and asked parents what they liked about the library for their young children, an overwhelming majority mentioned that it was a welcoming place for their children with a space where they could play and read books.
In addition to the workshops, our library has a space with toys and low book shelves with board books reserved for families with young children. With the exception of our computer lab, this is probably the second most popular area of our library. I have to admit that I was I bit worried about staff being skeptical or resistant about bringing in toys to the library, but I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed staff jump on board right away and even get excited about when the new toys started arriving. Having toys does require some extra work and special cleaning and we did have to develop a special system to monitor and clean the toys daily. Watching parents interact and read books with their child as well as participate in other library programs, makes this extra work well worth it though!
In addition to the workshops we have a space in the children's area with toys and low book shelves with board books reserved for families with young children. Besides the computers, this is probably one of the most popular areas of our library. I have to admit that I thought that staff might be a bit skeptical or resistant about bringing in toys to the library, but I was pleasantly surprised when I saw staff jump on board and even get excited about some of the new toys we were receiving. It is extra work and we had to develop a cleaning system for the toys, but watching how the families interact and read with their children as well as participate in other library programs and visit the library regularly, makes the extra work well worth it!