After 11 successful years of the CART (Children and Adults Reading Together) Program, Cumberland Public Libraries is taking their early literacy programs in a new direction with Families Exploring Literacy.
This program engages children ages two to three and their caregivers in pre-literacy activities to help families develop confidence in their ability to be their child’s first teachers. The program focuses on five essential components of early literacy development: Talking, singing, rhyming, signing, and playing. Maggie’s Place and CAN-U are active community partners in Families Exploring Literacy.
This pilot has been developed with knowledge of the province adopting pre-primary programs in schools, a program that serves the same demographic as our CART program. Pre-primary programs will commence in Oxford, Pugwash, River Hebert, and continue operating in Springhill and Amherst in September 2018.
While the pilot program for Families Exploring Literacy is running, CART will still be offered in communities without pre-primary as well as in Amherst. The CART program will run in Advocate, Amherst, and Parrsboro from September-December 2018. CART will also run in Amherst from January-March 2019.
Families Exploring Literacy will be comprised of eight sessions, each lasting one and a half hours. Sessions will start with circle time where parents and children will gather for group and lap songs. The coordinator will point out key strategies for engaging children in sign, rhyming, and signing, and discuss how these songs and activities can be incorporated in the home literacy environment. Circle time may include: welcome songs, puppet and flannel board stories, nursery rhymes, music and dancing, language games such as matching and sorting games, listening activities, and alphabet games.
The next part of the session focusses on creative play. Parents and children will work as partners, and under the guidance of the coordinator, engage in targeted play. This could include: drawing, painting, pasting, puzzles, blocks, letter play, etc.
Each session will conclude with a snack and take away time where library staff will assist parents and children in choosing materials to take away for home pre-literacy activities during the following week.
Families Exploring Literacy will take place in Pugwash and Amherst from September-December 2018. It will be offered in Springhill, River Hebert, Oxford, and Amherst from January-March 2019.
CART and the Families Exploring Literacy Pilot Program have been made possible by funding from FLIEF (Family Literacy Initiative Endowment Fund), the Rotary Club of Amherst, and 100 Women Who Care Cumberland.
Fiona Watson is the youth services librarian for the Cumberland Public Libraries