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Things Learned from the Library

March 19, 2010

Every Friday I take the children to our public library. We have been going there since they were teeny tiny.

This is Bruiser when he was two weeks old. It wasn’t his first time to the library. I’d been taking Monkey since he was about a year old (which would have put me at 6 months pregnant). Several times a year our library has infant story time. I started bringing him to those sessions where he could learn to sit and listen to a few 3-minute stories, sing some songs (which of course was really just the Moms singing and doing silly motions with their kids), participate in simple games, and socialize with other kids his age. I really love going to these story time sessions. While going to the kids story time I learned about all the other things that are in the children’s section. Here I’d like to list off for you several of the skills my kids (and Squirt too) have learned through our library trips. Some of these have nothing to do with the library, but are skills that I try to teach while we are there. Several of these pictures are old, so I’ll put captions on them so you can see the kids ages.

1. There are rules everywhere you go – While driving to the library, we all discuss the rules of the library. We try to teach our children proper ways to behave in public and our trips to the library has been very helpful with this.

Rule #1: Stay together as a group (hold hands in the parking lot, stay on the red carpet)

Rule#2: Whisper (in the adult section, talk nicely in the kids section)

Rule#3: Be kind and share with other kids

2. Responsibility – Each child has their own back pack and is responsible for carrying their books to and from the library. As soon as we enter, they put their books in the book drop before going to check out more.

Squirt & Monkey put books in the book drop, today

Bruiser just started using his own backpack after Christmas. (He got one as a gift from his Grandparents). He is still learning to obey rule#1 and has trouble staying put so he still spends quite a bit of time in the stroller.

Monkey also had a difficult lesson in responsibility when he tore up one of his library books at home.

Monkey attacks George, 2.5 years old

After disciplining Monkey at home for his destructive behavior, I told him he would need to bring his ripped book to the librarian and apologize to her. We had a serious talk about how he didn’t need to cry and just needed to be brave to talk to the librarian and tell her “sorry for ripping the book.” The point got across, because he very solemnly apologized and we haven’t had an incident since. Thankfully the book only cost me $3.00.

3. One-on-one time with a loving adult – in this case: Grammy.

Monkey reading with Grammy, 16 months old

Each trip, I read at least one book to each of the children. This was never a problem with Squirt because she has always loved sitting down to read books ever since I can remember. Monkey started asking me to read to him only recently. It used to be a battle – something he had to do first so he could go and play with the toys.

Monkey tollerates a 5-page board book before I let him go and play.

Along with “one-on-one time” I could also add “sitting when you don’t want to” to this section. Boy, is that a skill that every child needs to learn! It sure isn’t easy. This is where Bruiser is really struggling right now. He is a little guy who is full of energy and doesn’t sit for long. (He hasn’t ever since he started crawling).

4. Stay within the boundaries – Both Squirt and Monkey are old pro’s at this one now. The toddler section (where we spend most of our time) conveniently has a different colored carpet from the rest of the children’s section. We have a rule that you stay on the red carpet unless you ask, or we all go somewhere together. Squirt and Monkey are very good about asking to leave and staying put when they are told. Bruiser is not. On days that I come alone, I have to bring the stroller, because he will disobey and leave the red carpet. Every time he does, I strap him back into the stroller and hand him a book. He used to throw temper tantrums that would end our library trip abruptly, but now he understands that he will have another chance to obey again in a few minutes. On days that the Chief comes with us, I don’t always bring the stroller, because I have the extra set of hands to capture the little escapee.

Bruiser, 14 months old

5. Quiet time by yourself can be enjoyable – Bruiser has recently discovered that it is ok to just sit and relax for a little bit.

This little reading cubby is one of the kids favorite places to go…and favorite things to argue about. There’s something special about going into a little corner that is blocked off from all the other crazy things going on. (And trust me, this toddler section can get quite noisy and busy with all the little munchkins that come.)

Bruiser oooo's and ahhhh's over some kitties, 14 months old

6. Equally important as quiet time, is making new friends – very rarely do we go to the library and find ourselves to be the only ones there. Learning to share the books, toys, puzzles, chairs, and cubbyholes is another important lesson that must be learned.

Bruiser gets the cold shoulder, 16 months old

As is trying to make new friends and being completely ignored.

7. There are more resources at the library than just books – sure you think of CD’s, DVD’s and computers, but over in the children’s section other resources are the toys, puzzles and games.

Monkey going for a toy, 16 months old

A rare moment of brotherly love as Monkey helps Bruiser with a puzzle piece

Bruiser says hello to Zoe and Blueberry, today (23 months old)

We visit the birds every trip and I try to teach them something new about them. We look at the colors of their feathers, what they eat, and even where their poop goes.

Squirt & Monkey make patterns on the checkerboard, today

8. The library has more knowledge than your Mom – about two months ago, Monkey was very interested in motorcycles. He kept pretending with them and talking about them. So one day on our way to the library I asked if he would like to get a book about motorcycles. “Huh?” was his response. The thought had never really occurred to him that he could get a book about anything he wanted! We practiced saying “Do you have any books about motorcycles?” as we drove the rest of the way. He was so excited to go and find the librarian to ask her. I was skeptical that he would get really shy with her and not ask, but he went full-force. He wanted to know more about motorcycles!

Since then, I ask Squirt and Monkey what they would like to get a book about each visit. Sometimes they just don’t know, so I’ll give them ideas. I think the part they like the most is walking over to the “big kid” section to select their books.

Today Squirt told me that she and her Mommy saw a bird with a red tummy. I asked if she would like to learn more about Robins and that’s all she talked about for the rest of the trip.

Monkey and I discovered a mound of sticky sap while picking rocks out of the mulch. I told him how some trees make sap that is turned into maple syrup. He told me he wanted a book about “trees that make syrup.” Done and done.

Monkey and Squirt pose with their "new interest" books, today

9. Computer usage – I haven’t let them play games on the computer yet. As soon as I do, I know Monkey won’t want to do anything else. Just today, though, we used the computer to look up where to find their books. Usually I have them ask the librarian so they do it all themselves, but today the librarian was giving a tour to a school group and wasn’t available. The computer that they do use every time is the check out computer.

Monkey scans his own books to check out, today (3 yrs old)

10. Refine motor skills – I wish our check out systems were the radio-frequency kind where you just place all your books in a pile and voila! it’s done. Ours are a little older and each barcode has to be scanned. I wanted to teach the kids how to do it themselves, but boy has that been a lesson in patience for me! Monkey got it mastered in about 2 months. Squirt (who is 7 months younger) is still getting the hang of it. A lot is involved. Take books out of bag and make a pile, insert library card, push the correct buttons on the screen, orientate the book correctly on the scanner, wait for the beep, place in finished pile, and repeat. It’s a lot of steps for a little one to remember!

Squirt "beeps" her book, today (2.5 years old)

The kids really enjoy getting out of the house and going to the library. I really enjoy seeing them learn new things. (By far the best part about being a teacher!) If you haven’t visited your local library, I encourage you to go. Even if your an adult who hasn’t been in years. You’ll be surprised at all the new things there are for you too! (Including basic computer skill classes for free!) Whenever I think of paying my taxes, I like to pretend they are all going to worthy efforts like supporting my public library.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Squirt's Mom permalink
    March 20, 2010 5:36 pm

    good post! I love reading all your posts, but I especially love the ones that include Squirt since I really have no idea about all the little things she does during the day. Thanks for including her! and for teaching her all those grown-up lessons right along side your boys!

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