At the beginning of each school year, children in Ohio are assessed using the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA). This tool gauges how ready they are for the Kindergarten experience by measuring their social and emotional development, language and literacy, understanding of early math concepts, physical well-being, and motor development.
In the 2018/19 school year, as many as 22.7% of children in Ohio needed significant support to engage in Kindergarten-level instruction. Locally, only 38% of children tested ready for Kindergarten. More than 3 in 5 Montgomery County children started Kindergarten behind their peers.
Brain development occurs fastest during a child’s first years of life, from infancy to age five - when the foundation for all later learning is built. Dayton Metro Library is a dedicated partner in education and lifelong learning - beginning with those critical early years. With innovative services, accessible programs, useful resources and key partnerships, DML expands youth horizons for learning by maximizing our contributions to the region’s education goals.
Sometimes, busy parents just need simple suggestions and support to incorporate learning into daily routines with their baby, toddler or preschooler. DML offers Quick Text Tips, brief text messages sent directly to parents, with ideas for interaction to encourage brain and language development, motor skills, and improved vocabulary and comprehension. Two to three tips are sent each week; users can opt out at any time. To opt-in, text DML-Tips to 38671.
Love Them Out Loud is an award-winning DML initiative to promote early childhood literacy with helpful tools and guidance in easy-to-use Early Literacy Kits. DML provides the Kits to low-income health clinics, WIC centers, preschools, and home health care specialists to ensure they get to families most in need. They are also available for purchase online through the DML Foundation. Developed by early literacy experts and supported by the DML Foundation and private funders, each Love Them Out Loud Kit includes an original, fully illustrated book and fun, simple activities for building age-specific skills:
DML offers a wide variety of Storytimes for different age groups, interests and needs - from Baby Storytime for our littlest patrons, through Toddler Storytime for children age 18 - 36 months, to Preschool Storytime that builds the language, literacy and social skills preschoolers needs for success in school. Each type of Storytime, led by engaging Library staff, features books and activities tailored to each stage of development.
Babies and toddlers can also enjoy unstructured Play and Learn time at the Library with fun, developmentally appropriate toys that encourage literacy and learning.
DML’s Bookmobile brings the Library to children whose families cannot easily visit a library in person. In 2019, the Bookmobile made 293 stops across Montgomery County, welcoming 875 classes of children - many of them at daycares, preschools, and Head Start locations. Not only can children browse and borrow books, but Library staff lead exciting Storytimes and other activities to encourage a love of reading and learning.
Dozens of online tools for educational support are available to anyone with a DML card at DaytonMetroLibrary.org. An excellent example for young children is Early Learning by World Book, which features stories, videos, songs, and games that encourage reading comprehension and mastery of phonetic skills for preschoolers and early elementary grades. Another exciting resource is the children’s eBook database, Tumblebooks. Animated stories, chapter book read-alongs, games and more are all designed to build reading, math and multiple literacy skills in Preschool through grade 6.
AWE Stations at all of the new or newly-remodeled DML locations provide safe, fun, computer-based education for ages 2 - 8. These easy-to-use computer stations have 70 different interactive, age-appropriate programs on math, reading, science and art that are both engaging and educational for young learners.
Full of books, toys, games and learning activities, themed Sprout Backpacks make learning fun! The quality, age-appropriate materials in each Backpack teach young children skills they’ll use in school: talking, singing, reading, writing and learning. There are kits geared toward children ages 1-8, with themes that range from shapes, colors and counting to math, science, and getting along with others. Sprout Backpacks can be borrowed and reserved just like books.
Perhaps the best resource Dayton Metro Library offers is the expertise of our Children’s Librarians and Early Literacy Librarian, Kathleen Moore. Moore provides training and assistance to educators, parents and caregivers on ways they can help young children develop skills they’ll need for school success. She regularly updates the Early Literacy page with new topics such as “Learning to Write,” “Anti-Bias Education,” and “Stories in Rhyme” and supporting book recommendations. She curates a list of links to other early learning resources, and she contributes to the Library’s FOCUS email newsletter for parents and educators.
Whether searching for books to appeal to young children, looking for tips to engage a child in learning, or needing connection to community resources, DML experts can help. Contact Youth Services Staff at your nearest Branch Library, by calling 937.463.2665 or visiting DaytonMetroLibrary.org.
DML recognizes that our impact is greater when we partner with organizations that share our goals. Learn to Earn Dayton is a county-wide initiative aimed at ensuring that every young person in the Dayton region is ready to learn by Kindergarten, and ready to earn by graduation. Learn to Earn leads the Montgomery County Birth to 3 Collaborative, composed of partners that serve infants and toddlers and their families; social service agencies; public health, hospital and health care leaders; and philanthropic organizations.
Additionally, Dayton-Montgomery County Preschool Promise was created to help more children come to Kindergarten ready to learn. It makes at least one year of high-quality preschool more available and affordable to families with 4-year-olds in targeted school districts. DML’s Early Literacy Specialist provides instruction and support materials to the Preschool Promise program.
ML frequently collaborates with other community organizations on special projects or initiatives, such as the partnership with ThinkTV that produced quality online learning for children in the Summer Challenge.
“Becoming a skilled reader requires growth along a developmental continuum that starts at birth, with exposure to rich language interactions and experiences,” says Kathleen Moore. “The more caregivers know about this development, the better they can support our youngest learners,” she says.
“Parents can boost their baby’s brain development and ability to learn language in fun and bonding ways, and the Library can help,” says Moore. “It’s the gift of early literacy.”