Friday, December 7, 2012

Creating Kits for Homeschoolers in Chippewa Falls

Many thanks to Colleen Crowley, youth services librarian at the Chippewa Falls Public Library, for this guest post.

Math Kit

 Are you continually thinking about ways your library could reach out to homeschool families in your community?   The Chippewa Falls Public Library recently created several homeschool kits. The kits circulate not just to homeschool families, but also to elementary school educators, parents looking for additional learning opportunities for their children, and daycare providers. The Chippewa Library is not alone in offering hands-on kits to its patrons. Several libraries, like the Manitowoc Public Library, offer kits for a variety of ages and learning needs. The main difference is that the Chippewa Library kits have been created specifically with homeschoolers in mind.

Oceans kit
After a lengthy process of feedback from homeschool families we developed a number of kits that are being checked out on a regular basis. We gave careful consideration to include materials that would serve a variety of ages, learning styles, sensory issues.  We were also looking to ensure functionality and durability, and to provide curriculum supports.

Solar System kit
The kits cover broad-topic science-related themes such as weather, the human body, the solar system, and oceans. There is also a math kit covering concepts aimed at preschoolers through 4th graders. A preschool kit is the newest addition, and will focus on early literacy skills.

To make this project sustainable, staff only examines the kit once after each circulation.  We tried to strike a balance so that the kits had great things but they wouldn't be unreasonable for checking in. The kits are housed in plastic tubs and are stored in a back room.

Patrons can request a kit and a staff member will obtain it for them. The entire content summary for each kit is listed on the OPAC records, so patrons can check on their availability. No holds may be placed on the kits--they are available on a first come, first serve basis and must be checked out at the Chippewa Falls library. The check-out period is 3 weeks with no renewals.

The library staff have received much positive feedback on the kits. Families are enthusiastic about the level of attention used to expand this collection. Homeschoolers new to the area are often surprised to find such useful hands-on materials. Every week we have new families coming in to the library looking for support and information about homeschooling, and the kits are a great thing to be able to offer-- just one of many services that libraries around the country could think about offering for this population.

If you have any questions please contact Colleen, one of the children's staff, at the Chippewa Falls Public Library at 715-723-1146.

No comments: