Which Program Is Right for Your Child?
We love our babies. We see hundreds of parents, caregivers and children a week at Watha T. Daniel, and we see a lot of people bringing children to every program we offer. While that seems like a great way to spend the day, it may not be the right thing for your child.
Each of our programs is carefully constructed to provide the right experience for children who are at specific different stages of development verbally, educationally and socially. Children who are too young or too old for a program will not be getting the right social experience for their age group. So to help you choose the right programs for your child, here are the recommendations about which programs are geared to which age groups and why.
Ages Birth to 2 Years Old
Children in this age range are only just barely verbal. They are listening to sounds and words in the environment so that they can build up speech skills of their own. They also have limited motor skills, and may only be able to grasp, clutch and throw objects.
The library programs that are listed for this age group tend to focus on sounds, songs, rhymes and one-on-one interaction between an adult and a child. The exposure to rhymes helps build knowledge of the phonemes within our language so that they can start sounding out words on their own. Hearing good, rich language in context also helps them build vocabulary. Children in this age group should come to our Mother Goose on the Loose programs on Fridays.
Children who are between the ages of three and five have ideally developed verbal, motor and social skills, though those are still somewhat limited. They understand that they can talk to other people and carry on a rudimentary conversation. While they may not yet be able to read, they are building a broader vocabulary and generally recognize the structure of a book. They are running around and are often able to keep in rhythm with a beat from a song.
Library programs for children in this age range are specifically geared toward reading picture books and engaging in collective, group-oriented activities like call and response, singing and dancing. These activities expose your children to linear narratives, which help build sentence structure and reading comprehension. They also encourage socialization with other children engaged in the same activity, which gets them ready to participate in pre-K and kindergarten settings. These children should be coming to our Tuesday Story Time and Thursday Rock Along programs.
Children in this age group are already in an active and engaged learning environment. Much of what we do at the library bolsters that learning environment and provides recreational outlets from it. Children around ages 6-12 are also very highly socialized, and they are focused on being peers and being recognized for their age. They want to play and learn with children their own age and are less likely to be actively engaged in a program where there are very young children present. Our library programs for this age range are less consistent (i.e. not weekly), and often are focused around class room or summer camp involvement. Library programs for children in this age range include Nintendo Wii Game Nights, Wimpy Kids Book Club our forthcoming Art Club and a host of specific summer reading events. We ask that you not bring younger children to these programs.
Anything listed as a "family" program encompasses a broad range of children, but primarily it will fall between the ages of 3-12. These programs provide a little something for everyone involved. For the younger children there will often be story times, songs and dances, and for the older children there may be arts and crafts. The purpose of these programs is to provide a family-friendly environment where everyone can engage in an activity as a group, strengthening the family bond. The library programs for families are the Family Story Time and I Made It Myself, both of which are hosted on Saturdays.
We want to make sure you have the best library experience possible, and that your children develop a strong foundation to encourage them to be lifelong readers. So, please keep these factors in mind when considering whether to bring your child to a library program, and have a conversation with your caregivers and ask them if they are bringing your children to age-appropriate library programs. Together we can really make a difference in our children's lives.
-- Eric Riley