Make Early Childhood Literacy Accessible
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Posted by: Nathan Swartzendruber
At Saroj's Strengthening STEM in Everyday Storytime yesterday, she impressed on us the importance of early childhood literacy and reminded us of the huge amount of research and variety of activities available to support early childhood literacy.
We have two young boys at home, ages 4 and 1, and hearing these ideas gets me excited to try new things with them. These activities aren't difficult, and lots of them are related to what we already do with the boys. To hear that this is effective, we're on the right track—and to hear that from an early literacy professional—is really encouraging.
And parents can use some encouragement. "How many times a month does a parent get a pat on the back for good parenting?" asks Saroj. "Zero to maybe one-half," she answers. That sounds accurate. And even if you think you're doing a good job of reading a story or talking about what you're seeing, that's easy to doubt when your child appears to be thoroughly distracted.
That's why I love the "Stretching Language toddler" video from Every Child Ready to Read, which Saroj showed during the day.
Baby smells an onion
The dad introduces the food he's cooking with like he's a guest host on Julia and Jacques. He confidently tells the baby that eggplant is often used when cooking Italian food, and that eggplant is a little squishy (and offers it to babby to feel). Babby waves his babby fists and makes silly faces, and we're shown that that response is fine!
Libraries are full of early childhood literacy professionals, but your communities don't know it. They confuse storytime with entertainment while they try to fit in just one adult conversation that day, even if it's on their smartphone. Don't wait for parents to recognize your expertise. Get proactive and offer early childhood literacy tips. Be encouraging and use specific examples that model what parents should do.
Social media is a great platform for this, since you can send a brief message to a broad audience. Share a picture of simple shapes and explain, "When children learn shapes, it helps them recognize the shapes of letters, later on. Help them learn shapes, and you're helping them along the path toward reading." That's a message I'd be glad to read, and share.
- Nathan Swartzendruber, SWON Technology Educator
SWON's Fall Membership Meeting
At SWON's Fall Membership Meeting, we'll hear Kim Fender and Greg Edwards talk about innovations the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is putting into practice. A great example is the new Reading Branch, where the meeting will be held, which trades circulation and reference desks for roaming librarians. Changes like these can seem out of reach in various ways, but this talk is designed to show how you can implement them, whatever your library's size or budget. You'll have lots of opportunities to ask questions, as well.
As always, Membership Meetings are where you can hear more about where SWON has been working and what we plan to accomplish in the future. Everyone is welcome to attend. Please join us on December 1st for SWON's Membership Meeting.