The Blog of Toledo Lucas County Public Library
They are wonderful, beautiful, sleepy, tearful, messy, frustrating, and thoroughly amazing human beings. We mollycoddle them, we overindulge them in their engaging ways, as we are fighting for sleep, quiet, and the courage to guide them. We want the best for them intellectually and developmentally, but how do we accomplish this seemingly impossible task?
According to science contributor, Jonah Lehrer in his Wired magazine article, What is it Like to be a Baby?:
Babies don't have a spotlight of attention: they have a lantern. If attention is like a focused beam in adults, then it's more like a glowing bulb in babies, casting a diffuse radiance across the world. The lantern casts its light everywhere.
Babies don’t have to be focus driven right away, we have to let them be babies, in order to have their brains connect to the world around them. While we think they are not paying attention in Baby Storytime, they really are. In their own way, not ours. And they won’t because their frontal cortex, where attention is located, won’t develop fully until their school years. Which leads me to my case for going to the library for Baby Storytime and early literacy guidance.
A Baby storytime gives babies and their caregivers the chance of developing early literacy skills together at the library. Utilizing music, rhyming, movement, and song all in a fun package fosters a love of books and reading. In a typical Baby Storytime, babies are bouncing on laps, crawling around the floor, and chewing on fingers and toes.
Well, how does a baby learn when they are too busy chewing on a favorite blanket? Or, they are too young to learn, you say, when they are only two months old.
The answer is they are processing all the information going on around them, all the time. Remember the “lantern?”
How do they have a great experience listening to a librarian doing their best to promote learning while looking another baby in the face, and playing with their three strands of new hair all at once? They are the “lantern.”
Babies are so in tune with their environment, especially with faces, voices and sounds they recognize. They are listening and paying attention to everything when we don’t have any idea how they do it, and certainly not when they do it. The synapses are firing, folks. My advice is engage with your baby, no matter if it is only five minutes a day, by talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing with them.
What is Early Literacy?
Early Literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they actually read and write. Early literacy skills are the roots of reading success. But without a caregiver’s involvement, my primary job as as trainer for each family in these early literacy skills is not possible. The “Every Child Ready to Read 2 (ECRR2)” program is amazing.
Every Child Read to Read 2: 5 Best Practices
Talking in a way that encourages children to talk will help them understand what they will later read; Even very young children can understand spoken words long before they can speak any of them — talk to your infant and you will be amazed at how your child responds.
Singing helps children learn new words. Singing slows down language so children can hear the different sounds in words and learn about syllables. New words. Singing develops listening and memory skills and makes repetition easier for young children — it's easier to remember a short song than a short story.
Reading together remains the single most important activity to help children become proficient readers later. Reading together develops vocabulary, comprehension, and general knowledge needed to understand other books and stories when they are older. The language of books is richer than the language of conversation, because books contain more "rare" words which they may not hear in everyday conversation.
Writing and reading go together! Both represent spoken language. Scribbling and drawing are forms of writing — they may not be words, but the lines and pictures your child draws mean something to them. Scribbling and drawing help children develop eye-hand coordination and the fine motor control they need to hold a pencil. Writing doesn't always have to be writing — it can be tracing in sand, playing with clay or play dough, or crinkling up newspaper to help strengthen finger muscles!
Play is one of the primary ways young children learn about how the world works. Play helps children think symbolically — that this item stands for this thing ("This box is a sailboat.”) which helps them understand that words can stand for real objects or experiences. Play helps children practice putting their thoughts into words. Play is how children practice becoming adults and process what they see and hear every day.
What do Babies and Baby Storytime Teach Me?
Babies and Baby Storytimes are the glue-sticks holding my life together. The amazing thing about babies is their resilience and ability to encourage change in every one of us. Change is a baby’s real middle name. They are constantly growing, physically, emotionally, and intellectually. And it is our middle name, too. In other words, babies are pulling us kicking and screaming into new evolutionary ways right along with them. We are simply trying to keep up.
Moral of This Story
Baby Storytime is the fabric we try to weave around babies to provide early literacy skills here at the library. They will thrive and grow through your dedication to providing learning opportunities everyday. But, don’t make it harder on yourself or on them by thinking they have to sit, stay in your lap and pay attention. They are learning, every time you encourage the 5 Best ECRR2 Practices. It is the Baby-vs-Baby Storytime riddle. Your local librarian will help provide a small portion of the means to promoting a baby’s development, helping you with the skills necessary. You and your baby will be the never ending quilt stitched together from the strength of early literacy.
Take the 101 Picture Book Challenge!
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Check out our series of blog posts on The 101 Picture Book Challenge.