Our Parent/Child workshop is a wonderful opportunity for parents to network with each other and form bonds of friendship. I have witnessed parents connecting on many topics of concern regarding their children including language development, eating and sleeping habits and weaning. The weekly resource professionals are an integral part of educating parents in the community, as well as, giving new parents a sense of confidence in the raising of their children. As part of the educational component, the first week of the workshop I am the resource person in the role of librarian. I discuss the science behind the importance of reading to children. I convey the value it has in the development of the brain, emotional health, expressive language and school readiness. I also make the parents aware of our Parenting and Growing Up collections. Sharing with them examples of physical books written on topics of interest covered at both an adult level, as well as a picture book format, encourages circulation of these items.
Parent/Child Workshop also provides a valuable learning environment for socialization which children may not otherwise have at the pre-school age. Children who are not yet ready to play with other children and engage in solitary play, still benefit and learn from being immersed in the experience of observing how others interact with toys and fellow children. They gain information about how their peers solve problems of sharing, taking turns and toy exploration, in addition to participating in imaginary play, an art opportunity and a circle time which promotes early literacy. In a recent session of Parent/Child Workshop, I watched one little girl who was painfully shy. She entered at the start of each week covering her face with one arm. She played mostly with her mother during the program and when others approached, she would quickly cover her face again. It was great to see that at the end of the third week and beyond, by the time we sat down for circle time, she was able to look me in the eyes with a big smile while we inserted her name into the weekly welcome song. Additionally, a two-year-old boy came in to play in our toy area in the Children’s Department several weeks after the Parent/Child Workshop he participated in had ended. His dad shared with me that he “sings the whole circle song at home.” There is no doubt that we are enhancing language development, early literacy and a love for the library.
This program has had a positive impact on our community proven by parents who repeatedly sign up from one season to the next and continue to sign up as new children are born into their growing families.