For moms and dads who stay home with their children, summertime can be a challenge. Trying to find activities to keep the kids occupied is often exhausting, not to mention costly, and it can have them running all over Metro Atlanta.
Fortunately, the key to a stress-free summer that won’t break the bank might just be at your Tucker library.
“We’re here to serve the community,” explains Senior Librarian Elisabeth Harris. “I’m not concerned about noise and activity…I’m not a shush-y librarian!”
Harris, who the kids call “Miss Elisabeth”, oversees the children’s programs at the Tucker-Reid H. Cofer Library. She and her team are about to embark on an ambitious summer schedule of free classes and events, one that offers engagement opportunities to children of all ages virtually every day in June and July.
On Tuesday mornings, Harris opens the library an hour early for parents of babies or young toddlers. The Building Blocks class gives youngsters time to play with toys, sing songs and get exposed to books for the very first time.
“We’re working on pre-literacy skills, the rhythm of language and helping parents to interact with their child,” Harris explains.
It’s a different experience on Wednesday mornings at the Tales for 2s class, a gathering Harris affectionately describes as “chaos”. Parents and their two-year-old kids come in for a half-hour session of age-appropriate stories, rhymes and songs designed to target their developmental needs. That class is followed by one that is near to the librarian’s heart: Spanish for Toddlers.
“Before I became a librarian, I taught French and Spanish at the Lovett School,” Harris recounts. “With foreign language, it’s definitely the younger the better.”
For elementary-age children, the library offers an array of summer activities. A weekly movie series will open in June, while students can also take advantage of book clubs, public speaking seminars and an animation workshop.
While these classes for the younger groups often draw dozens of parents and kids, Harris admits programming for older students has long been a challenge. Tucker’s library recently turned to Adult and Teen Services Librarian Jason Beyer to revamp offerings for teens and preteens. This summer, they will offer everything from live music to improv, even classes on robotics and belly dancing.
This summer, Monday nights will be family nights at the library. Rather than age-specific activities, the staff has scheduled a series of diverse offerings to entertain parents and children. This will include storytelling, a magic show, a petting zoo and a shadow puppet night.
“We encourage families to come to the library at least once a week during the summer,” Harris says.
With all of these events on tap, a weekly visit may be underselling things. The staff at Tucker-Reid H. Cofer Library is making a traditionally mundane setting the cool place to be for Tucker families this summer.
Avoiding Brain Drain
Summer break is a time when students’ minds often go into vacation mode. To help them avoid “brain drain”, Miss Elisabeth has three tips for parents.
1) Read for Pleasure
“The wonderful opportunity that summer presents is reading for pleasure. It’s a lifelong skill that you can enjoy into old age. Students often enjoy books that are part of their school curriculum, but sometimes want to choose their own books. Our reluctant readers often enjoy non-fiction books. The key is finding the right book for your child.”
2) Set a Routine
“The benefit of coming to the library is we offer children fun things to do, but in an academic-type setting. Make it your summer routine to come to the library once a week and the whole family can pick out books they want to take home and read.”
3) Have Conversations
“Discuss with your child what they are reading. Discuss with them what you are reading. When reading to young children, don’t just read the words on the page. Talk about it and ask them questions.”