MidCoast Libraries Supporting Early Literacy
“Positive early literacy experiences help young children build a strong foundation for learning to read and write, and are a key for future success in learning,” says Chris Jones, Manager Libraries of MidCoast Libraries.
“Early literacy programs provide opportunities for young children to be able to experience language in all its forms.”
Baby Rhyme Time at MidCoast Libraries
Studies in the USA have shown that 83% of children who are not reading at a year three level by the end of year three are at risk of failing to graduate from high school.1 This has potential flow-on effects to lifestyle and earning ability. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that 44% of Australian adults don’t have the literacy skills they need to cope with the demands of everyday life and work.2
MidCoast Libraries in NSW recognise this and are actively fostering the development of early literacy skills in the region.
“Young children learn language by listening, talking and reading but also through other forms of expression such as storytelling, music, movement, dance and drawing,” says Deb Horgan, Community Outreach Librarian of MidCoast Libraries. “It’s these types of activities and experiences that underpin the development of strong language and literacy skills.”
To provide these experiences, the MidCoast Libraries run a range of programs for early literacy and beyond, such as Baby Rhyme Time, Preschool Storytime and Homework Help.
Baby Rhyme Time
Baby Rhyme Time is a program for babies and toddlers (0-3 years old) and engages parents and children in rich language experiences. Held in a fun and informal environment it includes reading, music, rhymes, singing and dancing.
“Parents should sing along with their toddlers every chance they get!” enthuses Chris.
Preschool Storytime at MidCoast Libraries
Preschool Storytime is designed for children between three and five years. This program includes books, reading, music, rhymes, dancing and age-appropriate craft.
Preschool Storytime teaches about the rhythm and patterns of spoken language in a fun environment. It is designed to support the development of communication and listening skills.
During school term, Homework Help sessions are held weekly at selected libraries, for primary and high school students. Volunteer tutors provide support to help them complete their homework.
“We provide free Wi-Fi, printing, photocopying and afternoon tea,” says Deb, “as well as friendly welcoming faces!”
But wait, there’s more…
MidCoast Libraries provide a full program of activities for children each school holidays including science workshops, movies, games, art and craft activities and much more. Most of these activities are free and cater for children from 5-12 years.
HSC Study Nights are held at Forster and Taree libraries. A study space, free printing, copying and Wi-Fi, as well as refreshments are on offer to support local Year 12 students in the lead up to their exams.
The Great Books Festival is an annual program which brings well known Australian authors and illustrators into local schools.
“This wonderful initiative, probably the largest library-driven reading festival in regional NSW, creates opportunities for local students to meet and be inspired by published Children’s and Young Adult authors and illustrators,” explains Chris.
With all this support on offer, there’s no doubt that the children of the MidCoast region have got a solid grounding for the future.
Baby Rhyme Time and Preschool Storytime sessions happen regularly across MidCoast Libraries. Everyone is welcome and you don’t need to book. Homework Help is available at the Tea Gardens and Forster and HSC study nights at Foster and Taree Libraries.
You can find locations and dates for all the activities on the MidCoast website. https://library.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/Events
1 Shrier, C. (2013). ABC’s of Early Literacy: The importance of developing early literacy skills. Michigan State University Extensions. www.canr.msu.edu
2. Better Beginnings. (2017). Reading is the essential life skill. www.better-beginnings.com.au