Welcome to this latest attempt to connect librarians from west-central Wisconsin with each other! Please send in content (booklists, ideas, photos, etc.), and comment on posts so we can help each other. If you were using feedmyinbox to get new posts sent to you before, you'll need to switch to another service (blogtrottr works like feedmyinbox, googlereader is a good blog-reader to try).

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Friday, December 15, 2017

Circle of Security

blue and teal swirl--logo for Circle of Security
Circle of Security International Logo
I learned about Circle of Security as an approach to parenting and parent education the other day at a meeting, and I just had the chance to poke around and see what it is all about.  There are some great short animated videos.  Check them out!  Basic points include:

  • It is important to "be there" for children, no matter what emotion they are expressing--and to work against our own fears and insecurities and discomfort with their strong emotions to recognize that it is normal and healthy to have feelings like anger, fear, sadness, and exuberant happiness.
  • Providing kids with a "circle of support" allows them to explore, but also to come back for comfort, and to know that they will always have someone bigger, stronger, wiser, and kind helping them navigate and setting boundaries for them.  
  • Remembering there is no such thing as "perfect parenting" and that if we do well enough most of the time, it is enough!
  • Relationships and connections are where it is at!

I recommend checking this out as parents and grandparents, aunties and uncles, friends, and also as people who parents turn to when they are feeling overwhelmed by the ins and outs of parenting.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Empowering Parents

A parent and child play together with a toy grocery store
A parent and child play together in Hawkins
Many of you have been trained in the Every Child Ready to Read curriculum, emphasizing helping parents and caregivers understand the importance of five early literacy practices (Playing, Talking, Singing, Reading, and Writing), and the simple things they can do to help their children's brain development.  If you aren't already familiar with this program, please let me know, I'd love to talk with you more about it!

Today at a meeting for a local group trying to get a Talking Is Teaching effort off the ground in Eau Claire and Chippewa counties, I learned about the Vroom App, which is designed to help parents/caregivers build brain-boosting conversations into every day activities (eating breakfast, getting dressed, and more).  There was a powerful SHORT video on the site (scroll to the bottom of the home page), emphasizing the importance of sharing with parents that they have the power and ability to make a difference in their children's brain development.  Check it out to get inspired.  And then let's talk about what you are doing to help parents and caregivers feel empowered to make a difference for their children.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Play Is the Way!

A toddler playing with blocks
A child playing in Bloomer
Every several months, I have a chance to get together with early childhood professionals from around western Wisconsin, and it is often some of the most fruitful time I spend.  Not because I get a lot of taks ticked off my list, but because I hear about what kinds of things others who work with young children are thinking about, what kinds of issues families in the region are facing, ideas about how to include kids who speak English as a second language or kids with disabilities, and opportunities to work together on projects.  I also tend to learn a lot, including about the absolutely critical nature of PLAY in child development.  For young children in particular, it is absolutely crucial for them to have time to play.  I know there is a role for libraries, here, and I have seen some incredible spaces and programs that encourage imaginative play in libraries in IFLS-land and beyond.

Play Is the Way is a new 3 minute video created by Sheila Briggs at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.  I highly recommend taking a peek.  And showing it to your stakeholders, especially if they aren't sure if you need the space and resources for play in your library, or if they question a change in the focus of your programming.  The video makes some really great points about skills kids are learning in play:

  • Focus and ability to shift attention
  • Figuring out power dynamics 
  • Communication and articulation
  • Creating, negotiating, and changing rules
All of these things activate the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is critical for developing executive functioning skills and leads to better self-regulation and academic success.  While playing, children can solve more complex problems and tend to speak in more grammatically complex ways than they would if engaging in a teacher-driven activity.  It takes intention and skill to set up these spaces in such a way that kids are able to explore and learn, and the payoff is definitely worth it!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Find Your Voice!

Prairie Dog with hat speaking into a microphone
Image from Pixabay

When you see the call to present at a state conference or an IFLS workshop, do you assume the people asking for presenters are talking to other people?  Believe it or not, those calls are meant for YOU!  There are lots of reasons to ignore this sort of invitation, and I can totally relate to many of them--feeling like you don't have much of great importance to share, feeling terrified at the thought of putting yourself out there and speaking in public, lack of time to prepare, not knowing the "rules" of the game.  These are all reasonable concerns, and I think some of them can be overcome with enough persistence and mentoring. 

Earlier this week, Marge Loch Wouters wrote a terrific post in the YSS Blog with lots of great tips for presenters.  And then I saw that David Lee King also wrote a blog post about overcoming fear of speaking and why it is worth the effort.

So, next time you see a call for presenting, either to your library peeps or to others in your community, maybe you should recognize it for what it is--an invitation to YOU!  And if you need some help navigating your preparation, let me know.  I'd be happy to provide whatever help I can.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

FREE Webinar Series on Teen Services

bottom half of legs in torn jeans and tennis shoes
Image from Pixabay

The Young Adult Library Services Association is sponsoring a series of FREE webinars--you don't have to be a member to participate, and you don't have to pay.  This is pretty exciting!  The topics cover everything from teen development to cultural responsiveness to interacting with teens to continuous learning, and lots of other great topics.  The only catch--there is only room for 100 in each session, so if you are interested be sure to check it out soon and get yourself registered!

If you are too late to get in on this, sign up for the upcoming YSS Powerhouse Presents webinar (co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Library Association's Youth Services Section and IFLS) coming up February 23 from 1-2 pm:  Getting Out to Get Teens In with YSS Members Emily Sanders and Alicia Woodland.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Early Literacy Activity Calendars

wooden blocks with letters spelling out the word PLAY
Image from Pixabay
For several years, the Youth Services Section of the Wisconsin Library Association has created a lovely Early Literacy Calendar, designed by YSS members to encourage families and caregivers to engage with their children in a variety of playful activities to boost development.  Many of your creative and smart colleagues in IFLS-land have contributed to that calendar (thank you!).

Starting in 2018, YSS will not be creating this Early Literacy Calendar--in part because there is a really great alternative in the Reading Is Fundamental activity calendar--also available in Spanish!  Whether you used the YSS calendar or not, I recommend taking a look at this one--consider printing it out each, with a list of library programs or materials you want to highlight on the other side.  Bound to be a hit with families, preschool teachers, daycare providers, 4K and Kindergarten classes, and more.  They even have a calendar with activities suitable for older kids, ages 6 and up.  Check it out!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Coding Resource Is Super Cool!

If you haven't had a chance to peek at the new super awesome toolkit that is part of the Wisconsin Libraries Coding Initiative, I highly recommend taking some time to do that.  Created by our inimitable statewide youth services consultant Tessa Michaelson Schmidt, it is filled with amazing tips and resources, including, but not limited to:

  • Suggestions of coding activities, ranging from low-tech/low-cost to high-tech/high-cost, and everything in between
  • Ideas about how to connect with people to help you teach coding in your community
  • Ideas about equipment that could be useful, with something to match every budget
I cannot say enough how useful this resource is!  Do yourself a favor, whether you are coding curious or a coding enthusiast, or even coding terrified, you will find something here that will be easy to put to use.