Collaborating for success: Supporting early learners & caregivers

By Shelley Harris, Children’s Librarian

By now, you’re very familiar with our new Early Bird Learning video series, right? Each week we share a new video, alternating between content to watch with your kids and content just for caregivers.

To help create content for these videos, we’ve partnered with our friends at Collaboration for Early Childhood, who are sharing concerns, challenges, and other topics that families and educators are telling them they need support with.

Check out some of our newest videos in the series

Feeling Mad (for kids)

Exploring Social-Emotional Learning (for caregivers)

Change Is Okay (for kids)

How to Use Puppets (for caregivers)

Working together to support a strong start for our children

And this video series is just one of the ways we’ve partnered with the Collaboration—an organization that shares our values around learning and resources for our youngest children. Here are some more initiatives that have come out of this many-years-long relationship:

In-person & virtual programming: Supporting social-emotional learning

For example, in 2016, the Collaboration ran a survey to learn more about Oak Park families and their needs, and we used these results to launch a number of programs and initiatives. One of the most asked-for topics was social-emotional learning and behavior management for 3-5-year-olds.

Based on this community need, Jenny and I developed our much-loved Be Our Neighbor program. Every week, we watched an episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and then had a discussion about it plus a related activity. Kids and caregivers would spend this time together, reacting to the show and then continuing conversations during the rest of the week.

We also started explicitly highlighting social-emotional skills during our storytimes, and later, our videos.

Early literacy support: Sharing stories, words, rhymes & more

The Collaboration also was an inspiration in beginning Early Bird Readers, our weekly literacy texting program. Every week, we support caregivers and educators by sending them a text focused on an early literacy build block: sharing books, songs, stories, words, rhymes, sounds, and play. Some texts share why early literacy is important, others share activities to do together. (Sign up now »)

Take-home kits: Engaging & empowering children with a love for learning

Last year, we were the lucky recipients of a dozen early learning-themed bags from the Collaboration. Topics include music, shapes, building, and body senses. These kits are great for classrooms, because they come with multiples of items for small group use, but also are fun for families! Kits can be checked out for three weeks »

Kindergarten readiness: Helping kids prepare to learn

We also spent a lot of time partnering during the early months of the pandemic, helping kids get ready for a brand new kind of kindergarten with Ready, Set, Kindergarten.

Here’s to many more years of collaboration!

Shelley Harris

About Shelley

Shelley is a children’s librarian with a passion for early literacy, serving and celebrating the disability community, and exploring technology. She can often be found practicing storytime songs with her black lab, Bingo.