Partners: STEM Action Center, Boise School District
The Boise Public Library used the grant funds to run a program titled “Kindergarten Lions” at the library and one of the school district preschools, which provided weekly workshops for a seven-week session. The focus was on developing early literacy practices, motor skills and STEM content. Participating families received an activity booklet each week, materials and resources to engage in those activities, and a backpack of school supplies.
- Creating a family-focused and engagement program: Several of the families attending our program mentioned how they enjoyed how engaged the parents/caregivers were with their children in the program versus normal storytimes or programs when parents/caregivers tend to check out.
- Having programs outside of normal working hours: Out of the three times we offered our program, the Saturday class was by far the most well-attended and most engaged. Working parents were extremely grateful to have an option to attend outside of work and not in the evening when they are picking up their child, eating dinner, and doing nighttime rituals.
- During each week we suggested activities for parents/caregivers to do at home with their child based on that week’s theme. Many of the activities required families to check out items from the library, requiring families to create library cards, or on each activity booklet we placed “get a library card” on the list.
Family Engagement. Each of the families attending highly rated our program and said they would suggest it to a friend/family member. The families that attending the in-library programs felt more connected to their child and to other families attending the program and had a higher rate of doing the early literacy activities at home.
- Relying on schools to dictate information to parents. We relied on the schools to tell us what they needed in terms of promotional materials and support but what we should have done was over-send promotional materials and send an update to the teachers each week to make sure they were staying aware of the program and reminding their families to attend.
- Registrations for long periods of time. Our original plan for this program was to have families attend one program each month for seven months. Instead we pushed together our timeline and had one program each week for seven weeks. While this was beneficial in that families could attend a shorter period instead of committing to half a year, many families felt like they had to put a lot of their personal lives on hold for seven weeks to attend the program each week. They said it felt like more of a commitment to attend once a week versus once a month.
- Time line: Having the program take place in the spring before kids are going into Kindergarten was not the best time. Parents would rather have the program in the summer, closer to the time their child will be entering Kindergarten.
- If I were to do a program with our local schools again I would bring them in on the planning decisions, so they could tell us what they see as a need and what they would like to see happen, versus us creating a program and then making it fit at the schools for their population and needs.
Spreading the word about our program to our partner schools. Many schools already have their own version of Kindergarten Readiness or they had READY! workshops and were not interested in another program. Because of this we moved the program to the library, which turned out to be fantastic and the families were more engaged at the library than at the school’s location.
Pre- and post- evaluation, broken up into sections such as family engagement, social-emotional skills, early literacy skills, large and fine motor skills, and kindergarten readiness skills. (See Documents for Post Survey) Family engagement increased from the pre- and post- surveys (reading aloud together, eating dinner together, playing games together, attending other library programs).
As a whole, the following also increased: Children’s abilities to separate from their parents/caregivers and regulate their emotions, identifying letters and ability to write their names, using scissors well, tracing, and other early literacy skills.