Friday, March 19, 2010

A Parent Library for Your School?

This was the last thing that I had to do:
Because of course the Parent Library that I set up at the girls' school this year must have a crafty sign. My contributions to the sign are the letters, cut from scrapbook paper and cardstock using the Winter Wonderland Cricut cartridge (during which time I also made the girls approximately one thousand dancing reindeer and stylized bunnies, and also several 3D stand-up trees). Willow's contributions include a background of Do-a-Dot marker; button, rhinestone, and googly eye embellishments--
--and her name in pencil, which I TOLD her not to do, but the kid just can't seem to help herself. After three years in school, she writes her name on everything that she does.

I highly recommend the installation of a parent library in your kid's school. The library, which in our case is a very large bookshelf in the school office, consists of parenting books, books about schooling and child development, and books in enrichment areas, but the key is that all of these books are endorsed by the school. Can't figure out which book touting which discipline method you should read? If you trust your kid's teachers, why not check out the one that they like? Without this library, I would have never known that the Montessori teachers at this school, as a group, are ADDICTED to the Positive Discipline series. Between all the head teachers, I think that they own every title. And it's a good series. I like it.

It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be to come up with a pretty large collection of titles for the library. One month, I attended the early morning head teachers meeting, during which time I explained the concept of what I wanted this parent library to be. I told the teachers that I imagined that they likely found themselves talking about the same issues with parents over and over--ADD, perhaps, or sleep discipline, or cliques. With a Parent Library in the building, the teachers could request that books be added on those issues, particularly their favorite books to recommend, and then whenever they speak to a parent, they can send them over to the library to read a particular book. The teachers were pretty excited, and had LOTS of suggestions for books to include.

To squeeze some extra books into my very small library budget, I also asked the teachers for any books they'd be willing to move from their private collections in their own workrooms to the parent library bookshelf. Each of the teachers, based on their own classroom experiences, had collected a large assortment of books, everything from books on bipolar children to the bullying of girls, and depending, of course, on what ages they taught. If they moved a book from their private shelf to the parent library, they would still have access to that book (although not necessarily immediately, because it could be checked out, but could also easily be recalled), and it would free up some space in their work areas. I received stacks upon stacks of books this way, including that entire Positive Discipline series. And then I didn't have to go back to the teachers to double-check that they endorsed any of these particular books, as I did with the independent purchases--if a teacher has a book in her own collection, it's endorsed.

Here's an example of what the Parent Library now contains:





The library still needs some books about tween boys and the rest of the works of Maria Montessori, but for this year, at least, its budget is tapped out.

The gold standard check-out procedure for a library this small is to write the title/author of each book on its own index card, and alphabetize it in a card file. When parents want to check out a book, they print their first and last name and the date they took the book on the card. When they return the book, they note that date, as well. If the school needs a particular book back for any reason, they have all the parent telephone numbers on file, so they can call the parents, or just grab them at pick-up. And I rubber-stamped the school name and address on the inside cover of each book, just in case somebody forgets where their book came from.

Over the long-term (which I won't be around for), I would have liked to have provided a few take-home Montessori materials for the library, and a collection of Montessori-endorsed children's books (they're real big on peace, you know). But for this project for this year, I'm afraid that I'm just going to have to stick a fork in it, and hope that next year's librarian will have some bigger and better ideas.

And perhaps I'll write my name in pencil somewhere, too.

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