California libraries have been involved in creating and offering quality services for young children for many years: from storytimes to family reading events to lapsits and more. These programs are valuable and through the ELF initiative are enhanced to include the family and reflect current research in early childhood and brain development. What may appear to be small shifts in children's programming has the potential to make a big impact on children's learning.
These shifts include:
- Serving young children from infancy. Children are born learning and knowing.
- Including parents and primary caregivers in children's services. Relationships are the key that facilitates learning in young children, which is why the parent is the child's first and most influential teacher.
- Creating ways to transfer library services to the home. It is through the parents' understanding and ability to integrate interaction and activities with their child into everyday practices that will foster the child's development and learning.
- Designing programs that reflect current research. The past thirty years have amassed considerable research by child development specialists and researchers that confirm practices, which support a child's growth and learning.
- Offering programs that are interactive, fun, and engage both the child and adult with the child directing activity. Learning takes place when there is communication, movement and interaction that involve both the child and caregiver, allowing the child to lead as they explore, experiment and play.
- Working with and including literacy services, library staff and community specialists who reflect a similar mission. They can provide the expertise and knowledge to families on their child's development, collaborate on programming, provide resources and share in achieving the library's goal of serving the community.
- Enhancing the library's facility and atmosphere as a family-welcoming and engaging place. Families with little children need to know from the moment they enter the library that it's a place where they are welcome and where they can learn, enjoy and share time together.