Written by Natalie Alexander
Continued from part 2: After identifying and assessing the needs of parents with young children, members of the library committee engaged in some collaborative discussions with the local kindergarten and primary school to develop some educational workshops for parents.
Thousands of dollars were saved thanks to the dedication of the community members who contributed their time and expertise to deliver the workshops. This was a significant social investment into this small community town, simply because people cared enough to respond to a need.
The benefits of this collaborative project were many and varied:
- The children benefited by making a smoother adjustment to formal schooling.
- The school benefited from resilient parents and children, who were more prepared for the transition from home to formal education.
- The community benefited in the strengthening of relationships between community members and organisations.
- The library benefited by having its profile raised in the community and by deepening relationships with community members.
A parent’s perspective
Participating parents reported on a greater confidence in supporting their children to embark on their education journey.
The library had brought them together to share ideas of how to deal with challenges, celebrate successes and validate their own parenting experiences.
New friendships were formed among the parents who were now more informed and able to support each other.
Here is one mum’s reflection:
Recently, I was afforded the opportunity to partake in a series of workshops designed for parents of children who will soon be beginning formal education. Over the course of a school term, for a few hours each Tuesday morning, parents were invited to learn about many topics, ranging from developing resilience and its importance in a child’s emotional wellbeing, and how milestone checklists can be beneficial, to the role that music can play in learning self-expression.
Literacy and numeracy ‘readiness’ was also an area of focus, and being able to talk with professionals, such as occupational therapists, and retired and practicing teachers was most beneficial in learning how to implement fun, creative and educational activities into everyday parenting scenarios.
Additionally, an unexpected bonus of the course was being able to connect with other parents, as one soon learns that we are all excited, yet slightly apprehensive, about our children embarking on the next stage of their journey to independence.
More importantly, it became very clear that we all want the same thing – for our children to be as emotionally, intellectually and socially ready for school as possible, and this course has paved the way for parents to ensure that their children have the best opportunity to succeed.
Building social capital
The school staff, kindy staff, library volunteers and families have built a rich collection of resources which will strengthen the social capital of this rural community.
Collectively, these community places are making a wonderful mark in their town. Everyone has benefited from positive community engagement within this story.
When library volunteers see the familiar faces of parents and children, a warmth and familiarity is strengthened in their social exchanges.
A child’s wish
Has the library made a difference? All indications strongly suggest it absolutely has!
Perhaps the words from a child who attended the library during the workshops demonstrates just how much the library has made a difference. Upon waking one morning, this particular child asked her mother: ‘Is it library day today?’
I think this wish says it all.