GERING — The first LEAP program at Gering Public library was so well-received, it’s going to be run again.
LEAP (Learn, Explore, Achieve, Play) is an early literacy, math and school readiness program developed by Christie Clarke, youth services librarian at Gering Public Library. The program was made available through a grant last year and while Clarke won’t hear until the beginning of September if she has received a grant this time from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, she intends on expanding the program from last year and using more material.
“Regardless of whether I get it or not, we’re doing the program,” she said.
LEAP will be held once a week with two 12-week sessions during the school year. Each session will serve 20 children ages 3-5 and their parents or caregivers.
The program is designed to support children with a wide range of abilities, English language learners and children from a variety of cultures to provide early math and language literacy instruction and support, fine motor skills practice and school readiness skills.
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It is also designed to provide parents and caregivers with information concerning early childhood education and to instruct them in the best ways to help their child with early math and language literacy.
Each weekly program will begin with a storytime, including read-alouds, songs, fingerplays and a flannel board activity. Other story time elements will be rhythm sticks, shakers, as well as take home items like finger puppets. After storytime, children and adults will circulate through stations with different activities geared toward language and math literacy and fine motor skills practice.
Many activities will be open-ended and exploratory, such as the puppet theater with puppets and/or props.
Additionally, the activities will be leveled so children may explore and learn at their own pace. For example, one station will have playdough with tools and letter stamps. Children who are developmentally ready for letter/sound recognition will use the letter stamps to stamp their names in the playdough, whereas children in an earlier stage of development will use the tools for fine motor play. A teacher-led station will also be set up to target specific objectives such as “recognizes and begins to write own name.”
The LEAP program follows the Nebraska Early Learning Guidelines for ages 3-5.
Storytime has also been expanded. Toddler Storytime is now Read and Romp Toddler Story and Playtime. Clarke applied for and received KENO funds to expand the program, which uses educational toys and activities.
After storytime is over, toddlers 18-36 months participate in activities just for them, which includes socialization and one-on-one time between toddler and parent. Read and Romp Toddler Story and Playtime is held on Wednesdays at 10 a.m.
A new evening storytime, Read It Again Storytime, begins in September for toddlers and preschoolers. It will run on Thursdays at 6 p.m. This story time uses repetition as a tool to enhance learning and comprehension and is based on “Transforming Preschool Storytime” by Betsy Diamant-Cohen and Melanie Hetrick. It runs year-round in six-week cycles.
“Children love to have the same thing read to them repeatedly,” she said. “Not only is it typical and normal, it is wonderful to read the same stories again.”
Clarke decided to add an evening storytime after talking with parents and other members of the community. The six-week program is based on a theme with activities that focus around the story that is repeated.
Other programs that will continue are Move and Groove Preschool Storytime on Thursdays at 10 a.m. This hour-long program incorporates read-alouds, songs, movement, a short theme-related video and an early literacy or math activity or craft.
LEAP and storytime are based on studies that have shown young children learn through playing and parents can help facilitate learning at home.
“That’s how they make sense of the world around them and practice the things they’ve learned,” she said.
Registration for the first LEAP session will begin on Sept. 1. The first session will begin on Sept. 19. Each session will be held on Tuesdays from 6-7 p.m. through Dec. 12.
For more information, contact Christie Clarke at 308-436-7433, by email at email@example.com, or visit the library’s website at http://www.gering.org/library.