Each year, Idaho children begin kindergarten without basic school readiness skills. Libraries have a critical role to play in their communities by helping families support young children and help them get ready for kindergarten. This series of one-hour workshops contains activities that strengthen family relationships while focusing on skills that can help young children prepare for school.
The workshops use a program-in-a-box model: each program plan contains activities to be facilitated by library staff, including research-based talking points, and some supplies. Each family that participates in a Kindergarten Readiness Outreach Workshop will receive a school supply kit and 25 Vroom(TM) Tip Cards to continue learning at home.
These are outreach workshops. They are designed to be held outside the library to help reach families that aren’t regular library users. Potential outreach sites include: daycare facilities, local employers, community centers, churches, WIC offices or other social services agencies, laundromats, etc.
Workshops should be limited to around 10 families. Entire families are invited to participate in the workshops. Limiting the number of families to around 10 means that there will be 20 – 30 people at each workshop, which is a manageable amount for the activities involved. Also, we want library staff to develop relationships with participants, which can be difficult with a larger crowd.
There are five different workshop plans from which to choose. Each plan focuses on a different early literacy practice – sing, talk, read, write, and play. Libraries are encouraged to apply to host workshops that best address the needs/interests of their communities and staff capabilities. Libraries can apply to host just one workshop or up to five. For the pilot year, we are limiting applications to five workshops total per library branch. In order to give us enough time to process and mail your request, you must apply for materials at least 3 weeks prior to your outreach event.
We’ll send you some supplies. Each program requires unique supplies. ICfL will provide some supplies that most libraries would not have on hand (like box cutters or plastic eggs), and libraries are responsible for the remaining supplies (like pens, scratch paper, and books for reading demonstrations).
Each family gets a school supply kit containing the following:
ICfL-branded Pencil Pouch
Vroom(TM) Tip Cards (25 in each set; we have a limited amount available in Spanish)
Play is one of the best ways for children to learn language and literacy skills. Play helps children think symbolically: a ruler becomes a magic wand, today becomes a time when dinosaurs were alive, a playmate becomes an astronaut exploring space. Through play, children realize that one thing can stand for another. This also helps children understand that written words stand for real objects and experiences, and practice vocabulary.
Reading together helps children develop a life-long love of learning and books. Library staff can help families find books both parents and children will enjoy, talk about ways to keep a child’s attention, and ways to keep them involved. Parents can make storytime at home more meaningful and help their children develop early literacy skills by adding a few simple techniques to their storytime routine.
Simple shifts in the way we talk to and interact with children can have a significant impact on their brain development. Ask open-ended questions and encourage engaging conversation to help children build vocabulary and develop narrative skills.
Writing can be anything from scribbling to writing letters and words. Early writing activities include those that help children develop their hand muscles, eye-hand coordination, and learning the letters of the alphabet. This workshop focuses on ways to support a child’s writing and pre-reading skills.
You should submit your summary report within two weeks of completing each workshop. If you apply to host multiple workshops, you will need to fill out a summary report for each workshop. The report isn’t very long – we’re mostly looking for feedback on the workshop plans, materials, and impact on your library. During your workshop, you will need to count how many children (including teens) and adults attended, as well as how many library cards were issued as a result of your program, and provide these numbers on your summary report.
Because we are providing school supply kits, including Vroom Tip Cards, to each family, we need to gather feedback on their experience at your workshop. Each adult attendee should fill out the Parent Survey at the end of each workshop. You are responsible for collecting the surveys and returning them to Jennifer at ICfL. There are three ways to submit Parent Surveys:
You can scan them and upload them with your summary report. There is an optional upload button at the bottom of your summary report, and you can submit them there.
Q: When can I request materials? A: You can request materials any time from August to June.
Q: Do I have to apply to host all five workshops? A: No – you can apply to host however many workshops work the best for your community.
Q: Can I host more than five workshops this year? A: Not right now. As we are rolling out this program, we are trying to get a better sense of the demand for each workshop. For now, each library branch can apply to host a maximum of five workshops.
Q: If I host more than one workshop, can I apply to host the same workshop more than one time? A: Yes! You should look at each of the program plans and apply to host the workshops that best fit your community and staff capacity (so, if you are musically-inclined, the Growing with Music workshop may be one that you would like to host more than once, etc.)
Q: If there are families in my community that attend more than one workshop, do they also receive additional school supply kits? A: Yes. We aren’t placing too many restrictions on this program during the first few months. We may take a look at this issue again later if we see a problem.
Q: Do I have to follow the program plan exactly? A: Kind of. We are sending supplies that were specifically purchased for each workshop, and it would be a misuse of tax dollars if you were to receive the supplies and not use them. That being said, if you can accomplish the goals of each workshop, including using the supplies provided and sharing a research-based comment to families, but do so with your own activities, go for it. You should note your deviations from the plan on your summary report (and Jennifer might steal them for future iterations of the workshops).
Q: So I have to fill out a summary report? A: Yes. Because this program is sponsored with funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), ICfL is required to get specific feedback from you. The Summary Report isn’t long, but you do need to fill one out after every workshop. So if you apply to do five workshops, you will need to fill out five summary reports.
Q: What about parent surveys? Are we doing those too? A: Yes. The parent surveys are 1-page long and should be handed out and collected from adults at the end of each workshop. You may want to hand out the school supply kits after each adult hands you a completed survey. Again, because the kits are funded through an IMLS grant, we need to collect specific data from members of the public that attend your workshop.
Questions? Email Jennifer Redford: firstname.lastname@example.org.