I wanted to also summarize what kind of programming the library did at the Headstart preschools in Monroe County. Dana and I would arrive at the Headstart site and usually we would stay at one for about half an hour. We visited two Headstart classrooms in Ellettsville once a month, and we would visit a classroom at a Bloomington elementary school once a month the next week. We brought story time and books to them so that they can start to build early literacy skills and be aware of what the library is like in their community.
In any preschool classrooms, it is very hard to predict what the classroom environment will be and how receptive the kids will be of you, so we had to be flexible. Dana brought different items and books with her and often she would switch things up. Usually we brought four or five picture books, and read two to three of them based on the age and attention span of the kids. Dana would also bring a portable flannel board and felt figures to use to tell a story, scarves or shakers that would give the kids a chance to move around and keep their hands busy for a short amount of time, and she would often bring a puppet who would give the kids hugs and high fives at the end.
Through this experience, I learned so much about patience, flexibility, and creativity. You have to have all of these qualities to keep the kids’ attention, and you had to expect that things would not usually go your way. But, this makes successes so much better, and it is so rewarding to see smiles on kids’ faces when you come in and interact with them. They really love the stories, the songs, and the activities we bring to them, and I have seen just how important this work is and how much impact we have on their lives.