At the 2010 BCASLPA conference I learned about Language Fun Storytime (scroll down to find the blurb about it), a program created by Vancouver SLPs and librarians. Since then I had been interested in learning more about the local library programs for preschool-aged children. Specifically, I wanted to know if they would be appropriate to recommend to the children and families that I work with. Late last year I had a few extra minutes at work one day, so I decided it was a good opportunity to send a quick email to the library.
The people at the library were absolutely wonderful. I was quickly connected with the woman who runs the programs for preschool-aged children, of which there are two that run weekly: Drop-in Family Storytime and Drop-in Baby Time. We arranged for me to join them at the end of January for Drop-in Family Storytime. The plan was for me to answer parent questions about speech and language development and observe how they run the group, to see if it would be appropriate for the children that I work with. I shared with her some information about who I am, so she could enter it in their events calendar.
The week before my visit she contacted me to let me know they had a regular group of about 20 families attending and that they had pushed the start time back by fifteen minutes. I prepared some packages to give to families. The packages contained:
On the appointed day I made the short trek over to the library to join them for Family Storytime. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I arrived a few minutes early, which gave me some time to check out the library (I found these awesome brochures), answer questions from the public, and to chat with some of the parents as they waited to go into the storytime room.
There was some confusion regarding the audience for the event and a couple people came to speak to me only (not for the storytime). One person was from another country and she was interested in learning more about the speech-language pathology profession. Another lady came to see how she could access services for her school-aged child. I did my best to answer both of their questions and then spoke with some of the families that had arrived early. Every one of the regular attendees spoke very highly of the storytime program and they all appeared to have a great appreciation of the importance of reading books with children.
I enjoyed the storytime and would most definitely recommend it to families of children with, or without, speech-language difficulties. The woman who read the stories had a wonderful demeanor and did a great job of engaging the children (and the parents) in the activities. The storytime involved:
- Reading stories: Children were encouraged to sit on the floor close to the storyteller so they could see and follow along with the pictures. The stories were read at a nice pace that would also help children to be able to follow along.
- Singing songs: She used lots of repetition and actions that would be of benefit to children with speech/language difficulties.
- Props: She used felt cut-outs to help make concepts from stories and songs more concrete.
There wasn't a lot of time for me to talk after storytime, as I had to get back for an appointment. I was able to stand up at the front of the group and give a brief explanation of the work that I do, how parents can refer for preschool SLP services, the importance of reading books for language and literacy development, and I handed out the packets that I brought.
Here are the lessons I learned, that I will keep in mind for future community visits:
- Make sure it is clear who the intended audience is.
- Give myself more of a time buffer (in case times change or things run late).
- Provide a clear description of who I work with and what I do (I.e., that I see preschool children).
- Bring information for parents (the public) on how to access services for people other than preschoolers; the BCASLPA public page on the website would be a good resource to share.