Programs – Infants
Why We Do What We Do
To help parents become comfortable being their child’s first teacher, many libraries offer programs which involve very small children (birth to 18 months or 2 years) and their parents in language-building activities. Whether they are called Baby Lapsit, Building Blocks, Mother Goose Time or something else, the goal of these programs is to prepare parents to help their children develop early literacy skills. Providing programs for this age group demonstrates to caregivers the importance of involving even the youngest child in positive, early learning experiences-experiences that they can continue at home
How We Do It Well
These sessions usually run 6-8 weeks and, and for optimum success, should be limited to no more then 8-10 children and their caregivers. When determining the number of participants, it is important to take into account the size of your room.
A typical program may include a 20-25 minutes “play-with-a-purpose” segment during which parents and children use age appropriate toys to interact meaningfully. After the toys are put away, a quiet 5-10 minute are spent sharing board books one-on-one. The segment concludes with a 15 minute circle time, during which the emphasis is on music, fingerplays, and movement games. Or, the order could be reversed with the playtime at the end.
Toys are not essential for this type of program, if funds are limited. An increase in the time spent on the other parts of the session will be equally effective in modeling interactive behavior. A brief demonstration with one or two age appropriate toys can show caregivers how to work with the child when they are at home.
Most important is a “fund” of songs, nursery rhymes, and fingerplays and the enthusiasm to share the fun of learning. A copy of these can be given to the caregiver at the end of the session.
While the children are the most impacted, during the session, the parents are the prime audience as they learn how to work with their child for the greatest literacy experience.
Of course, there are many different ways to present infant lapsit. When you decide to provide this kind of programming for your community, take some time to visit libraries that already have programs in place. You will also want to look at a book or two on the subject. Then you can decide which elements you want to pull together for your program. One helpful title is Mother Goose Time: Library programs for Babies and Their Caregivers by Jane Marino and Dorothy Fl Houlihan.
A program outline, similar to a teacher’s lesson plan, enables you to see the overall organizations of your program and to plan the most effective arrangements of activities. Below is a typical program outline. If you decide to use a different format for your program, create a similar outline reflecting your chosen sequence of activities.
You can also make notes about questions you want to ask or pertinent comments you want to remember to make. Once everything is laid out on the outline, it is easy to see what books, and props you will need to gather before you practice and present your program.
These can also help you plan programs in the future and share programs with others.
Activity Time (20 to 25 minutes) Walk around and “visit” with each parent and child pair as they play with educational toys. Praise, encourage and suggest.
Note Anyone coming in late is able easily include into the program without causing a disturbance.
Pick up Time (5 -10 minutes) Everyone helps gather the toys and return them to the their storage containers.
Note that blowing bubbles and playing music are good distractions while toys are being put away.
Book Time (5 to 10 minutes) Caregivers and babies “read” books together one-on-one.
Group Story Time (5 minutes) Librarian can select one book to read as a model for caregivers.
Circle Time (15 minutes) Fingerplays, nursery rhymes, movement games and songs are shared.
This above article is based on Children’s and Youth Services Staff Handbook et al Elaine M. McCraken published by Georgia Public Library Service in 2002. Used with permission