It’s Back-to-School time, which means it’s also back to our school-year programs in the Children’s Department! We’ve had a busy start to August, putting the final touches on another successful Summer Reading Program and prepping for your little ones’ return to Story Time at the end of the month. Our fall semester programs will begin on August 29th. Story Time is a favorite part of each day here in the Children’s Department, and we hope that you and your children look forward to joining us for a weekly visit. To kick off the fall season just right, we’re offering some helpful hints over two posts to help you and your kiddos get the most out of your story time experience. Let’s start with Toddler Time!
Be engaged with the program.
Toddler Time is only 20 minutes long. Set aside these few minutes each week to focus on your child. Take time to snuggle, laugh, sing, and listen with your little one. Do your best to avoid distractions: leave your phone in the diaper bag, and come early or stay late to enjoy some much-needed conversation with other caregivers. The more engaged you are as a parent, the more your child will benefit from story time!
Encourage—but don’t force—participation.
Help your child take advantage of new opportunities for socialization, but remember that each child develops at their own pace. Some toddlers are perfectly content in the midst of the action, but others may not be ready to leave your lap for the story blanket or to have a conversation with our beloved bright yellow puppet, Kevin. Follow your child’s cues and recognize that their level of comfort may vary from week to week.
Take the story time experience home with you.
We will always have handouts for the toddlers at story time (and usually hand stamps too!). Children receive a die cut “letter of the week,” as well as a coloring sheet that includes early literacy tips and book suggestions. And don’t forget to check out some books! Plan to take these things home and use them later in the day or week to revisit the program. Talk about your child’s story time experience to reinforce the learning and the fun. Try singing story time songs at home too (I promise they’ll be stuck in your head all day). Repetition is a toddler’s best friend. Early literacy expert Saroj Ghoting emphasizes that parents are their child’s “first and best teacher.” We feel privileged to support you in that role.
One other note:
There’s going to come a day when your 2 year old has a meltdown…right in the middle of the library. Shocking, I know. Please, please let it go and come back next time. Believe me when I say that it happens all. the. time. Here’s a big secret you may not know about those of us in the Children’s Department: we’re here because we love kids! Tantrums and all. We get it. We’ve been there. We know what you go through to get your kids here each week, and we appreciate the (sometimes Herculean) effort it takes. So pack up those sippy cups, hunt down the missing shoe you know was snugly strapped to that chubby little foot, and let the threenager wear the cape or princess dress that they’re refusing to take off. It’s all good because…IT’S STORY TIME!