Last year around this time we heard lots of libraries talking about their programs for incoming kindergarteners. We’ve never done anything special, but it sounded like a great idea. We scheduled it on the Saturday before school starts, figuring everyone would be back from vacation by then and getting excited about school. We ran two sessions, one at 10:00 and one at 2:00, and had 17 children at each. (We had set a maximum of 24 per session, but 17 worked out to be a very nice size.)
We required that children attend with an adult. Everyone started together and were welcomed by a librarian. She then took the adults out for a tour of the department, focusing on things they should know about now that their children are in kindergarten. She showed them the way we level our readers and the book lists we’ve put together for new readers. She also introduced a few subscription databases that are appropriate for kindergarteners – Muzzy (our public schools start Spanish in kindergarten), PebbleGo, and TumbleBooks. The parents were especially excited about Muzzy and TumbleBooks. We were sort of hoping that if we introduced databases when the kids are young, they would realize we have databases and search out some new content as their kids get older; we’ll see how that goes.
While the adults were on the tour, the second librarian led the children in a kindergarten-themed storytime. (I’m linking to what I did for the morning session; the afternoon group had a different storytime.) Near the end of the storytime, the tour ended and the parents rejoined their kids to make a kindergarten journal. If anyone wanted to sign up for a library card, we gave them the forms to fill out so they could move pretty quickly at Circulation. We also gave away some school-themed goodies, mostly leftovers from our Summer Reading Club: folders, color-changing pencils, erasers, backpack tags, library card holders, and bookmarks.
A good time was had by all! Well, at least I had a good time. But we did hear a lot of positive comments from the parents.
For next year, love the idea of making this portfolio for the kids’ kindergarten artwork. Or something to give to the teacher on the first day (I forget who did that, but I thought it was really cute!)