Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ready, Set, Play!

A sign in our Family Place early learning area. Come play with us!
Santa Clara City Library recently received a grant to implement Family Place. The Family Place network currently consists of more than 300 libraries in 22 states, and continues to grow. Family Place is an initiative to make public libraries an inviting destination and vital community resource for children under five and their families. A component of a Family Place Library is a collection of toys, kept in a specially designed area within our first floor children’s department that welcomes families with young children. The toys do not check out, but rather are available for play during all open hours at Central Park Library.

Much research has been done regarding the importance of play to a child’s early development. Children learn socialization, problem solving, and spatial relations through play. Play also develops critical fine and gross motor skills, and allows children to use their imagination and exercise their creativity. The right toy can foster the six early literacy skills much as a book can. For example, our Family Place area features an alphabet abacus that teaches letter awareness. Children build their vocabularies and narrative skills when they tell stories with our puppets or cook a meal in our play kitchen. I’ve witnessed amazingly creative play between the parents and children using Family Place. As we learned in Family Place training, simple toys do really inspire the most complex play.

Las Madres Neighborhood Playgroups donated an additional $3000 to the project to purchase a toddler play kitchen, play food, and parenting resources. Carol Jossi, a loyal volunteer in the Friends bookstore, donated funds to purchase a Lego table and building blocks.

Another component of Family Place is the addition of a designated parenting resource section, located along the back wall of the picture book area. There you will find books and DVDs on topics such as breastfeeding, baby sign language, toilet training, childhood illnesses, healthy eating, and discipline.

Modeled on a national Family Place project, California’s Family Place Program is administered by the California State Library and is funded by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).

Posted by SPB