By Mary Howard and Stephanie Meredith
HDI and the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA) have worked for the past three years to prepare Kentucky libraries to be “School Ready Libraries” through funding from a Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant at the Institute of Museum and Library Science. To fulfill the goals of this grant, HDI and KDLA have worked with Kentucky public library staff to provide them with the training and skills needed to implement successful school readiness programs. Through this project, KDLA hopes to provide access to essential knowledge of early childhood development to librarians so they can help students get ready for school at a young age and have the best chances for success. Check out the Kentucky School Ready Libraries website.
“This was a wonderful opportunity to strengthen our relationship with an important community partner. This collaboration provided a chance to help educate on effective early childhood practices and also share information about what we do at HDI. A great opportunity that will hopefully lead to further work with KDLA in the future.” —Mary Howard, HDI Research and Development Associate
While librarians often have little early childhood training, they are an important community partner in supporting school readiness. Especially for children that are not in any type of formal preschool or early education program, the library may be one of the first community contacts for families with young children. Therefore, it is important for librarians to understand early childhood development so that they know appropriate expectations for young children and can also be one of the first identifiers for developmental delays.
This grant supported the development of three modules that focused on the five domains of school readiness: Health and Physical Well-Being, Social and Emotional Development, Language and Communication Development, Approaches to Learning, and Cognitive and General Knowledge. These domains are the focus of school readiness in Kentucky.
HDI was also able to observe some library story times and look at what is offered at libraries across the state to find ways to talk about inclusion and promote supports that consider what is best for all children. Consequently HDI also incorporated resources into the modules that focused on the importance of considering diverse needs of all children and families. This project also gave us the opportunity to look at how the library can be a community partner and a place for adults and children to feel welcome and supported.
Photo credit: Angela Smith