By Bailey Buckingham
The Kyle Library Board conducts educational story time for children with developmental delays and their parents through a partnership with The University of Texas.
Through a five-year grant provided by the U.S. Department of Education, the Kyle Library Board has created a program called Sensory Storytime, which assists children with developmental delays with educational story time and activities on a weekly basis.
Anita Perez, library board chair and author of the grant, said the inspiration for the program came from her professional field of study. Perez has her Ph.D. in bilingual special education and her Master’s in speech language pathology and is a professor at The University of Texas in Austin.
“It’s very important for us as professionals to work in partnership with parents to meet the child’s needs,” Perez said. “At the library, we are helping parents find additional resources so that they will be able to continue to help their children.”
Perez said the library board saw a need to have competent speech language pathologists provide educational practices to children of culturally diverse backgrounds.
Three to five graduate students come to the Kyle Public Library every Monday during the fall and spring semesters under the advisement of Perez.
The students come prepared with specific lesson plans for the children and ways to engage the parents during the story time. They provide hands-on and interactive activities such as stories, songs and movement exercises.
“The parents are encouraged to engage with the children because at that time we are also modeling for the parents on how to engage their children at home with books and songs to facilitate language development,” Perez said.
In addition to storytime, the graduate students provide the children with hands-on activities that help to expand the child’s gestures, use of words and expanding their sentences. All of these programs are provided in English and Spanish, depending on the need of the children and parents in attendance.
Perez said another important element of this program is the networking opportunities for the parents.
“It is important for parents to connect with other parents who have children with developmental delays,” Perez said. “This gives them an opportunity to share resources and build relationships with each other.”
The Kyle City Council has provided support for the program, she said. The council provided a letter of support for the grant application and has been supportive from the beginning.
“The council really understands the importance of making library resources available to all members of the community,” Perez said.
The library is the ideal place for programs such as Sensory Storytime because there is ample space and the city has purchased materials for the children, such as hands-on toys, smaller tables and educational books, she said.
The program, which began in September 2015, has an estimated 15 to 25 children in attendance every week. The sessions are free for attendees.
Due to the success of Sensory Storytime, the program is being continued throughout the summer and is being spearheaded by Cara Waits, assistant library director.
Sensory Storytime is one of the many innovative programs the Kyle Library Board has created. A new program, which will be held at Lehman High School, is providing children at that school with educational books and programs.
Lehman will act as a satellite to the Kyle Public Library to provide children in the area with learning opportunities and activities during summer break.
“These types of partnerships are important for libraries because they allow us to provide programs that are research and evidence based,” Perez said. “It is so important because it takes into account the parent’s needs and the children’s needs.”
CORRECTION: In our print edition, we incorrectly reported Anita Perez as having her Ph.D. in speech language pathology. Perez has her Ph.D in bilingual special education and her master’s in speech language pathology. We apologize for the error.