In January we put a call out for Canadian Youth Services Library content, and we have been overjoyed at the response! This post is the fifth in our guest post series highlighting the amazing work being done in Canadian libraries to serve children and families. Join us as guest blogger this week Justine Gerroir, Teen Services Librarian at the Oakville Public Library talks about the Tablet Time program they developed in Oakville!
The Oakville Public Library is located in Oakville, Ontario and is a suburban community situated west of Toronto with a population of just over 180, 000. Our current library mission is to build community by connecting people and ideas.The Tablet Time program at Oakville Public Library was first conducted in the Fall of 2013 after piloting tablet use in several of our preschool storytimes.
Tablet Time is a free program for ages 3-5 years that lasts one hour. The first half of the program features a programmer demonstrating various apps and ebook apps to create a fully digital storytime. This program relies on a tablet that is hooked up to our mounted projector with speakers that are plugged in. After the programmer has demonstrated various apps the tablets are distributed to the participants from our bank of ten iPads and for the last half of the program participants are encouraged to explore the stories, rhymes, and activities that the programmer has just demonstrated.
The programmer’s responsibility once the tablets are distributed is to assist with the technology, answer any questions and support navigation through the various apps, databases, and ebooks explored. This aligns with our goal to provide physical access and hands on experience with technology. I should mention that we also meet this goal in our day-to-day service offerings as we make available leap pads and touch screen AWE stations for our young library members at all of our six branches.
Parent and caregiver involvement in early literacy has again and again been cited in relation to academic achievement, success as a reader and of course love of reading. It is our aim to support this in the digital realm. Tablet Time also lends itself to the concept of joint media engagement that supports families having fun, connecting and sharing new learning experiences with technology. During our Tablet Time program we also strive to model appropriate and balanced use of technology: when it is time to put down the device and how to be selective about using it. We know that not all households are going to have access to technology and have a parent/caregiver that can take the time to be a media mentor. As a facilitator of a program that incorporates technology, the main goal is to empower those attending your programs to make impactful decisions and decisions of intent with respect to media with their children. We ask those present to consider what is to be gained by using devices and apps. Is it for entertainment? For educational purposes? Practicing letters and fine motor skills? Caregivers are role models and will have to make informed decisions about best media practices and routines for their children.