The past few years have been difficult for everyone, including the young children in our communities. Children who have just entered formal education or are about to begin school face unprecedented obstacles in socializing and structure because of recent global events that made social distancing the norm.
Instead of being introduced to activities such as play dates, parks, museums and day care, children were kept at home, where opportunities to learn to interact with others in a public setting were limited. Schooling took place through a computer screen instead of face-to-face. It has become a challenge for parents and caregivers with children who were not exposed to conventional forms of social skill building and structure to find facilities where they do not feel judged for their child’s development or behavior.
Cumberland County Public Library offers an opportunity for children from birth through age 5 to sample the experience of a structured activity and to interact with other children around the same age. It can be done without commitment to a daily routine that lasts several hours.
What is this magical program? We call it story time.
In less than an hour, children learn to sit quietly and listen to stories told from a book or in a variety of creative formats. They participate in interactive activities to build their confidence. They learn to follow directions while having fun dancing and singing to music, and so much more.
The best part about our story time is that children are accepted as they are.
Story times are safe spaces for children to learn, develop social skills and practice early literacy. Of course, some children will want to talk, run around or play when it may be deemed more beneficial to sit quietly. On the other hand, there may be children who are not ready to participate, who just want to observe. An assortment of activities can accommodate both the active and observing children during story time.
All children are welcome at our story times, and registration is not required. For more information about story times and other children’s programs, stop in at your local branch, call 910-483-7727 or visit www.cumberlandcountync.gov/library.
Kelly Baker is youth services associate at the Hope Mills branch of the Cumberland County Public Library.