Grantee Spotlight Blog Series: Spartanburg County Public Libraries
This week’s blog is written by Jessica Lopez, Director of Children’s Services, Spartanburg County Public Libraries
Spartanburg County Public Libraries is a 2019 Grantee of the Mary Black Foundation in the focus area of Early Childhood Development.
Children’s Services at the Spartanburg County Public Library
Members of the Children’s Services team at the Spartanburg County Public Library are ambassadors of children’s literacy who provide educational opportunities, resources, and connections to encourage lifelong learning. Such learning begins as soon as a child is born. To most, reading seems to be the obvious path to learning, but there’s a secret very few people have encountered in their life. This secret serves as the fundamental element of our daily life. We use it to connect with our peers, find solutions to problems, and apply meaning to our experiences. This secret is accessible, it’s something you can use every day, and it’s even more affordable than a book.
By talking to a child you have the power to improve his life forever. Studies have shown that talk is one of the biggest factors driving brain growth. Low levels of parent-child verbal interaction in these earliest years are a key reason too many children enter school significantly behind their peers. By talking to a child, specifically between the ages of birth to three years old, you are preparing him for kindergarten which ultimately is an indicator of future success well into adulthood.
The library is devoted to the rise of Spartanburg County. By acknowledging that this will happen by investing in our children early, and with the generosity of the Mary Black Foundation, we have found a unique tool that will measure and improve the language environment of children in their earliest years.
Small Talk Spartanburg County
Small Talk Spartanburg County is an initiative supported by the library and partnering organizations that will use a tool called LENA to measure and improve the number of words a child (birth to 32 months) hears in a day. On the most basic level, a child wears a device that measures the number of words being spoken to him one day a week. If a caregiver is enrolled in a LENA Start program, they attend an hour long session to review the results of that day and learn about ways to improve each week after for ten weeks. If a caregiver is enrolled in a LENA Home program (currently being utilized by Spartanburg’s Nurse-Family Partnership and Meeting Street Academy) a representative will visit the home with a more flexible schedule that allows for a more personalized experience.
Both LENA programs are designed to support kindergarten readiness and empower a parent to actively participate in their child’s learning. Starting in August, classes will be held at the Headquarters Library. Parents will have the chance to connect with other parents with children of a similar age, be rewarded for weekly improvements, and overall learn about their child’s brain development and how talking to their child can improve their life forever.
The library is currently recruiting partnering organizations that have an interest in early literacy and would like to host educational sessions for families in their community.
For more information about LENA visit www.LENA.org or click below to view specific documents.