Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Early Literacy in Eagle River--Progress and Challenges

Guest post by Pat Lamon

Hi!  I am the Children's Resources librarian and cataloger at the Olson Library. I was very honored to be able to participate in three different classes this past year through the generosity of LSTA -funded projects offered by the Public Library Development Team at DPI.

Online learning
Online learning (Pixabay)
One of the classes actually two classes--the Online Early Literacy Coursework with Saroj Ghoting.  I took Early Literacy and Books: Making the Connection and Early Literacy Enhanced Storytimes: Adults as Partners in Developing Language and Literacy. I thoroughly enjoyed the two classes although I am more of an “in-classroom” type of learner than I am a “long-distance through a computer” learner.  However, in both classes, I managed to acclimate to the programs and to pass each of the classes.  I learned a lot about how kids learn and about how things I did and could do would make a difference in helping the kids I encounter at Story Times, other library times and even outside the library times to be ready to read.  The information I learned complemented the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program which we put in place at Olson Library in mid-January 2015.

Grant money
Grant money (Pixabay)
The third class I participated in was Sharon Grover's Early Literacy Community Development Course.  This class helped me to analyze an early literacy need in my community and to formulate a project to help address the need.  We have been awarded a $200 grant and are in the process of developing welcome bags for newborn community members.  This has dovetailed very well with the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program.  I still have work to do on this project but am enjoying the challenge of the work and the expected success.

Distractions (Pixabay)
I have noticed in our Kids' Area in the library that there are indeed parents and caregivers who will be persons not giving their children/charges the opportunity to hear millions of words before
kindergarten.  For example, one parent sits in the Kids' Area and lets his little boy run wild while he buries his nose in either the newspaper or his cell phone.  The little boy tries to communicate and get a response from his dad but only gets monosyllables in reply and no initiated play.  I feel frustrated with this situation and have not been able to do much about it.  I try talking to the little boy and using rich language and asking questions on numbers and colors and what people or animals in books are doing, but it is a one-way thing.  Dad doesn't participate.  Unfortunately, they work when we have story times so I can't use that time to encourage more participation.  They have managed to at least read 25 books since signing up for the 1000 Books a few months ago.  We gave an incentive after the first 25, and once that was given, no further progress has been turned in.  This is my challenge!!!

As an additional comment, I have added chalkboards and sidewalk chalk to the Kids’ Area, plus doing much more flannel board and magnetic board things.  I also have a large bag of Legos (the “small or adult” size) plus several sizes of Mega-Blocks in the Area and these are heavily used. I loved the ideas found in the classes and am working on making progress while dealing with challenges.

Written by:
Pat Lamon, Children's Resources Librarian and Cataloger