Monday, 13 February 2012

Bilingual early years library session

I am currently preparing courses on early years library provision, and on rhyme times, and it’s been lovely to visit some great under 5s activities to pick up extra ideas for good practice. As there will be a bilingual context for much of the training I’m planning, it was especially good to attend a library session for Polish families in Enfield on Friday.

It was a snowy morning, so I expected low turn-out, but such is the dedication the weekly sessions inspire that ten or so families came along (there can be up to twenty), one of them with a week-old baby. Babies and one, two and three year-olds were all actively engaged, as were mothers, an older sister and a grandparent. There were lots of things to do, several with a suitably snowy theme, like the story being enjoyed here, and picture-making. Polish music played softly in the background. The morning ended with a wonderful, very participative rhyme time, which everyone loved. Agnieszka Bartoszek, who led the session, used rhymes in both Polish and English, and I found it fascinating to observe all the children and adults switching backwards and forwards from one language to the other with no problem. The little girl in pink here, who is nine months old, adores books in both languages. She sat on a little push-along bike and devoured lots with total delight.

What I admire about sessions like this is that as well as being so enjoyable, they play a huge role in supporting children’s language skills, their emotional and social development, and their knowledge and understanding. The value to the whole family is enormous. The group enables Agi to spread the word about other things going on for under 5s locally, and to alert everyone to issues like the need to register for nursery provision at the appropriate time. Recently she arranged a visit from an oral health practitioner, who talked not only about tooth-brushing, but also about how to find a dentist.

Many thanks to Agi, to Josie Layzell, Enfield Bookstart Coordinator, who arranged my visit, and of course to all the lovely families I met.