Parenting Tips: What every parent should know about the library
As parents quickly learn, young children and curiosity go together like peanut butter and jelly. Fortunately, there are libraries and librarians available to send kids on wondrous adventures and provide them with the resources they need to learn and grow. And most of all, parents can relax knowing the library is a family-friendly establishment.
Exactly what are libraries? Libraries are trusted, welcoming places where children make discoveries, deepen common interests, expand words and knowledge, and connect their natural curiosity to the wider world. Neuroscientists tell us that the type of learning that occurs in these institutions — self-directed, experiential, content-rich — promotes executive function skills that can shape a child’s success in school and life. The experiences, resources and interactions provided by libraries build brains and fuel a natural love of learning.
New skills for learning are anchored in children’s early social-emotional development. Known as executive function, these skills are key to a child’s earliest brain development, building focus and self-control, perspective taking, communication and making connections. In the process of developing these executive function skills, children use their social, emotional and cognitive capacities in pursuit of goals. These skills are the “how” of learning — reading, writing, social studies, and science and math skills. Taken together, they help children become self-directed, engaged learners.
Libraries provide easily accessible, high-quality early learning experiences to families. These institutions support the quality improvement efforts of many early learning programs, yet they play a particularly critical role for parents. They function as community common ground, providing engaging pathways into knowledge and skill building.
Here are just some ways that public libraries support communities’ efforts to develop a strong start for young children’s learning: