Have you seen those T-shirts or posters floating around on social media that say, "Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate" or "Keep Calm and Call Batman"? The original poster dates back to 1939. The poster read, "Keep Calm and Carry On". It was made to encourage the people of Britain during World War II.
My poster says, "Keep Calm, It's Just Dyslexia". Does your child have dyslexia? I want to encourage you. Keep calm - it will be all right!
Hi. My name is Anna. I'm totally dyslexic and I work at the library surrounded by the things that intimidated me as a child….BOOKS! I'm passionate about helping kids who struggle with reading. As a child, I used to hate reading out loud in class. I stuttered my way through my assigned passage. Now, I read out loud to kids throughout Jefferson County and I don't even stutter!
Statistics show that 15-20% of the population has dyslexia. There are even some popular, dyslexic authors on our shelves here at the library. My personal favorite is children's author and illustrator Patricia Polacco. Poor Patricia Polacco couldn't even read until she was 14 years old! She wrote a book about the teacher who helped her discover her dyslexia. It's called "Thank you, Mr. Falker."
Does your child have dyslexia or another kind of learning disability? Well, I'm not an expert. However, I do have the magic power of seeing things backwards. In my next few blog posts, I want to offer some suggestions of things that helped me overcome my dyslexia.
One thing I'd like to mention in this post is the importance of discovering your child's learning style. For a dyslexic reader, our eyes may play tricks on us but our other senses compensate for our weakness. For example, I've got some pretty amazing ears! That's how I learn. I listen and I remember. What is your child's learning style? Is it: auditory, tactile, or visual? If you are not sure, here is a link that offers clues and characteristics about each learning style.
If your child is an auditory learner, the library has many books on CD. There are probably bunches ready for check out right now! To take it a step further, while your child listens to the CD, put that same book in your child's hands. Just like that, they are reading and listening! More importantly, they will actually better comprehend the text because they are using their super, amazing ears! In the Children's section at your library, there are several kits that have the CD and picture book paired and ready for check out. These would be great for younger children.
Another suggestion I have is reading to your child. I have a sweet memory of my mother reading to me as a child. We would dim the lights and eat popcorn while she read to me. I didn't have to read out loud like I did at school; the pressure was gone. I just had to listen. She would pass her finger under the words as she read so I could follow along if I wanted. That regular experience definetly made me more comfortable in front of a book.
What can you do to help raise the score on those spelling exams? Record yourself and your child spelling the word out loud. Repetitive listening will help spelling test scores significantly. Singing the spelling words is another great way to help an auditory learner memorize spelling words. Clapping your hands or changing the tone of your voice for each letter is also effective. Just like that old nursery rhyme about a dog named Bingo.
When helping your child with homework, read the instructions out loud to your child. I'm sure your child's teacher will be happy to read test instructions to your child before taking a test.
Lastly, swing by for one of our storytimes at your local library. We don't just read at these storytimes, we sing, and move around. That moving around is just what the tactile learner needs. I'll feature the tactile learner in my next blog post.
- Singing helps children learn new words.
- Singing slows down language so that children can hear the different sounds in words and learn about syllables.
- Singing together is a fun bonding experience with your child — whether you're a good singer or not!
- Singing develops listening and memory skills and makes repetition easier for young children — it's easier to remember a short song than a short story.
- Movement gets the oxygen to flowing to those young brain and allows for a nice break to “Shake your sillies out.”
Pete the Cat is always a big hit with kids but why not try some other books that feature a sing-a-long song and picture book all wrapped up in one?
Give these books a try:
Let's Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy by Jan Thomas
Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum by Lisa Wheeler
The Croaky Pokey by Ethan Long
Photo credit: dok1 on Flickr
As readers of this blog already know, sharing books with very young children is important. The simple act of reading aloud to them, consistently, builds their language and socio-emotional skills. Children who enter kindergarten with these skills in place are most likely to thrive.
Last summer, The American Academy of Pediatrics, partnering with Reach Out and Read, began encouraging parents to read, talk, and sing during early childhood checkups. The project was profiled in a New York Times article:
“With the increased recognition that an important part of brain development occurs within the first three years of a child’s life, and that reading to children enhances vocabulary and other important communication skills, the group, which represents 62,000 pediatricians across the country, is asking its members to become powerful advocates for reading aloud, every time a baby visits the doctor.”
This strong endorsement of reading backs up a lot of what we do at the library every day. It's precisely why we invite parents and caregivers to baby and toddler storytimes. Library staff carefully plan 15-20 minute sessions with a blend of books that are just right for the age group with songs, activities, and opportunities to move.
Not only do the kids soak up the experience, but adults also participate in the rhymes and bounces. Storytimes give them a chance to do some bonding and to learn fun things to try at home. Afterward is play time and a chance for babies--and grown-ups--to make new friends.
Check out the latest storytime schedule to find storytimes for babies and toddlers at all of our libraries.
Photo credit: "I'm Dr. Miu" by Aikawa Ke on Flickr
As a child, one of my favorite parts of Christmas was reading my Little Golden Book version of The Night Before Christmas. My mom tells me that I was read the book so many times that I ended up memorizing it, and as a 4-year-old, I could recite the entire thing start to finish! Is it any wonder I ended up a librarian? Haha!
When a new batch of Little Golden Books crossed my desk a few weeks back, the sight of a pristine library copy of The Night Before Christmas brought me back to the happy Christmases of my childhood:
Sweet strings of Christmas lights twinkling outside my bedroom window at night. Ice skating to Christmas carols on an outdoor rink under the stars. Decorating the tree with old fashioned ornaments and clouds of silver icicles. Imperfectly made gingerbread cookies with smeary icing.
Relatives talking and talking, bathed in the dim glow of Christmas tree lights. A golden Christmas turkey, bright colored bowls of candy as pink as Santa's cheeks. Milk and cookies for the jolly old elf and carrots for the reindeer. An orange in the toe of my stocking and a wrapping paper explosion on Christmas morning!
Whether you borrow a copy from the library or buy one of these little golden gems as a Christmas present for your child, it is sure to make fond Christmas memories!
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!
Last week I saw on the news that families were spending less time together over the holiday due to time spent shopping, among other things. This year, why not take some time out from the hustle and bustle to craft great gifts with your kids? The benefits are numerous. First, you're creating connections with your children. You are creating a special time when they can be the focus--who knows what kind of great conversations you might have! Second, you're making something to give to someone. What better way to tell someone you love them than with a gift you've made? Third, depending on the craft you pick, you might be saving yourself some money!
You're not crafty, you say? Never fear, help is here! There are many resources out there for you; you just have to be able to follow directions. And I know you can do that! Start at the library. There are a multitude of books about making crafts. Here are a few about making presents specifically:
- Making Presents by Penny King
- The Usborne book of making presents
- Disney's Christmas Crafts for Kids
You can always check out some library events too. You never know when we might have a program about a craft!
Pinterest is another excellent place to get ideas. Pins generally have links back to more detailed instructions. You'll be surprised at the variety and number of options there are when you search Pinterest for "christmas gift crafts for kids."
You can also go to one of the big craft stores and buy kits that are all ready to put together. Remember, the idea is for you to spend some quality time with your child(ren), not to stress out about how to make something.
These are some of my favorites:
- Slow Cooker Cinnamon Almonds - these are easy to do, even the smallest helper can pour sugar and stir and then when they're done, help put them into decorative bags or boxes to gift. The people we gave them out to last year loved them, so we'll be doing them again this year.
- Ceramic Tile Coasters are one of my favorite crafts to make with kids. They are cheap and there are so many ways to decorate them that you can really tailor your design to different people. Color them with sharpies, paint your kid's hand and immortalize their handprint on one, glue a picture or a favorite team sports logo on them, the choice is yours. Here is one quick and easy tutorial.
- Ornaments are always a go-to at this time of year, too, and there are so many fun ideas floating around the web, you should easily be able to find one that fits your time, ability, and budget. How about this cute Cupcake Liner Christmas Tree?
Here's wishing you a holiday season full of joy, good cheer, time spent with loved ones, and maybe, a little crafting.
A few years ago, I left my job as a full-time librarian to stay home with my then 2-year old and my soon-to-arrive newborn. "Self," I said to myself, "we are going to have so much free time! However shall we fill our endless days?"
I know. I mean, now I know. I'll give you a minute to compose yourself. Have a small sip of water. Breathe into a paper bag or something.
There, where were we? Ah, yes. That year, Santa brought me this wonderful book, Playdate with Denver & the Front Range. I was delighted, and since I was suffering delusions of grandeur, I had BIG PLANS. We were going to ATTACK Denver & the Front Range. We were going to MAKE MEMORIES!! And then the baby came.
Long story short, I recently found that book under a pile of other great ideas and good intentions and it is the inspiration for this series. I really don't go enough places with my kids. I still want to make those memories, and I think we're ready now. We're starting the series off with one of my very favorite places to bring my kids - and the one place we visited regularly even when I didn't really want to go anywhere.
13150 W 72nd Ave, Arvada, CO 80005
WHEN: Clubhouse Winter Hours (Nov. 1-Memorial Day)
Monday-Friday, 7:30 am-9 pm
Saturday, 7:30 am-6 pm
Sunday, 9 am-7 pm
HOW MUCH: Free!!!
This place is just great. It's fun for babies and for big kids. There are tube slides and a climbing maze. One side is designed for the toddler/preschool set, with a short set of stairs to the slide. The other side appeals to older/more adventurous kids with a longer slide that requires more climbing and scrambling to get to.
In the last year or so they've added a few features to the play area: a foam canoe that seats 2-4 kids (depending on how territorial they're feeling), as well as a ladybug and a turtle that the pre-/early walkers love to play on.
The floor is made from rubber so most kids can easily shake off a minor stumble. Kids can "pilot" a helicopter, "drive" a daisy-car in the sky, repeatedly slam themselves into foam bumpers. I mean, look how fun that is! It's pretty much your neighborhood playground - but inside and way up high!!!!
Aside from water bottles, no food or drink is allowed in the Clubhouse, but there are tables and chairs just outside if you'd like to bring a picnic. There is also a snack bar where you can find reasonably priced standard snack-food fare. Full disclosure: we've never eaten at the snack bar. We live close enough that hungry-enough-to-whine-about-food time is also going-home time.
There are cubbies for jackets and shoes - socks are required. A few plastic stacking-style patio chairs are provided for parents and caregivers, but be prepared to get comfy on a nice bit of rubber floor. There is a bathroom in the clubhouse - it has one of those adorable (but wildly impractical for normal-sized humans) preschool-sized toilets and a changing table.
As you might expect, the Clubhouse gets very busy during inclement weather. It's a fabulous place to go to play during a snowstorm or cold snap, but you won't be the only one with that idea. If lots of stir-crazy kids running around like mad isn't your cup of tea - you may want to wait for a nicer day to visit.
The Apex Center's Child Watch daycare is attached to the Clubhouse as well - during peak times you may find lots of kids and not a lot of parents. This usually isn't a problem, as the staff is supervising, but if it's really crazy-busy sometimes the older kids can get a little wild while the staff is occupied with other children.
I love this place as much as my kids do. That magazine I can't find two seconds to flip through? That knitting project I'd like to finish before Christmas? That next level of Candy Crush? Hey kids! Let's go play at the Apex! They run themselves ragged, I get at least an hour and all I really have to do is "Mom! Watch!" every few minutes. An Apex day is always a good day.
Follow me, let's go places!
Photo credit: Rob Anna, Apex Center
As a bilingual English/Spanish librarian, I often hear from adults that they studied Spanish in high school, but they remember very little from those days. It makes perfect sense when you look at brain development. When babies are born, about 15% of their brains have developed. By the time a child is 3, 85% of the brain has developed.
Researchers have found that by 6 months old, babies are already showing a preference for a certain language. Baby brains are wiring to the rhythms and sounds they hear from their families, caregivers and community. More studies go on to say that the best window of opportunity to learn a second (or third, or fourth...) language is between 0-7 years old.
Learning another language by the time we reach middle or high school can be too late!
Our corpus collosums (the part of the brain that connects the left and right side of the brain) grow harder as we age. Connections from one side to the other are no longer as quick as they are in young children when the corpus collosum is soft and malleable. Learning new things becomes more difficult. And, as we get older, we learn more and more information. Our brain starts pruning away at unused information. Ever hear the phrase 'Use it or lose it'? That's what our brain is constantly doing; trimming away at what it doesn't see as useful to us any more.
So why teach a child another language? For one, it has amazing affects on learning new concepts and problem solving! People who know more than one language can quite literally think 'outside the box' more readily than a monolingual or one language speaker. That's because they already think in different languages or in more than one way!
Also, younger learners can learn how to produce the native sounds of another language much easier than older learners. Think of the early wiring to language sounds as babies and the pruning the brain does as we age. When we are young, the brain is activated to learn as much as it can, including how to form sounds with our mouths and tongues. For example, as children, if we don't have an experience rolling an 'rrrr' (I used to mimic my cat's purring), we will have a difficult time later in life trying to learn how to do it. The brain is more open to learning how to produce sounds during the early years or this critical period in its development. Wow! As a former preschool teacher, this stuff facinates me!
Here's an easy book in English and Spanish with bright pictures of familiar foods to check out:
Over the next few months, I will be exploring more about second language learning and sharing ideas on teaching your child another language---even if you don't know another language yourself!
Carrot photo credit: www.alternativa-verde.com
You know, even when the weather is delightful, it can be challenging to come up with new and fun things to do with kids. There are naps to contend with and snacks to pack and diapers and toys and it can seem like it's probably just easier to stay at home and have a pretend adventure.
Follow Me! is a new series in which we'll explore fun places for kids in or near Jefferson County. The places we'll highlight will be free or extremely affordable or just so totally worth the price of admission that I can't resist sharing them with you.
I have 2 kids and I'll be absolutely straight with you: I'll tell you who had a good time, who needed to be older or younger and/or if anyone cried the whole time (even if it was me). I'll let you know if the staff and other patrons were actually welcoming or if anyone cringed and fled when they saw us coming. I'm a mom who happens to be an information professional: just like you, I want to know if getting everyone out the door is really going to be worth it.
But first - there are some fun holiday happenings this weekend that I don't want you to miss:
Friday, December 5 beginning at 4:00pm - There will be dancing, caroling and free photos with Santa before the annual Olde Golden Candlelight Walk. You may bring your own candles, or purchase them at the Golden Chamber of Commerce. Consider visiting the Golden Library beforehand for cider and to explore our collection of holiday books to enjoy following the festivities!
Friday, December 5 at approximately 5:30pm - Santa and Mrs. Claus are going to light the community tree at the Evergreen Lake House, followed by the annual Holiday Walk from the Lake House through Downtown Evergreen! Visit the Evergreen Library before visiting Santa to get holiday books to share after the festivtities!
Saturday, December 6 noon-3pm - Bring a camera! Santa will be in Arvada's Olde Town Square every Saturday afternoon until Christmas! Guess what else is near Olde Town Square! (Do you see where I'm going with this? Wait for it...) Visit the Arvada Library before or after seeing Santa, choose some holiday books and films and keep the spirit of your super-fun adventure going well into the season.
Watch this space for more kid-friendly fun!
Photo credit: Vicky Brock on flickr
HEY...LEGO my EGGO!
I'm starving and if you think you can just waltz in here and grab my Eggo when I have been waiting so patiently for the toaster to pop...you've got another thing coming buddy!
What? This isn't about my Eggo?
You said LEGO? As in the building blocks?
Oh, well that makes more sense...
So, no Eggo's at the library? Just LEGO's at the library? That could be fun!
LEGO Club has made a huge splash at your local Jefferson County Library, offering monthly programs for both kids and teens. All you need is a little imagination and some elbow grease, and we'll provide the rest.
Now back to my Eggo...where'd I put the syrup?
PRINT MOTIVATION: Being interested in and enjoying books.
I LOVE BOOKS!!!
I know, you're saying "Well duh, you're a librarian". But, even if I was a rocket scientist or a zoo vet I would still love books!
Even before my children were sleeping through the night (and believe me I don't miss those days) I would sit in my rocking chair and read to them. It would be just us, gently rocking, and listening to "a quiet old lady who was whispering 'hush'". You can inspire the same love of reading in your children, whether it's the wee hours of the morning or the middle of the afternoon, showing interest and enjoying reading with your children is where their love of reading begins.
According to The Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLeL), that's why ECRR (Every Child Ready to Read) highlights PRINT MOTIVATION as one of their 6 early literacy skills designed to promote early literacy in young children.
Why Is It Important?
Kids who enjoy books and reading will be curious about reading and motivated to learn to read for themselves. Motivation is important because learning to read is HARD WORK!
It's important that we make sure our children start reading and listening to books from day one and that they have a good time with books.
What Can You Do to Help Build This Skill?
Read books you both like
Stop (or shift gears) when it is no longer fun. Length of time is not important; enjoyment is!
If you're looking for a tried and true classic...you're never too old or too young to enjoy, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise-Brown. I promise!
So, find a comfy spot, curl up with a fun book and your little one, and let the magic begin!