Library workshop brings families together

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published November 30, 2016

 D’Andrea talks with Ana Wydeven, of Macomb Township, whose daughter Estela, 2, plays with a doll.

D’Andrea talks with Ana Wydeven, of Macomb Township, whose daughter Estela, 2, plays with a doll.

Photo by Deb Jacques


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Growing up isn’t always easy, for both children and parents.

The Clinton-Macomb Public Library has joined 400 libraries in 27 states by offering “Grow, Play, Learn” — a program that is part of the Family Place initiative, which emphasizes that literacy begins at birth.

These parent-child workshops accompany other early childhood programs offered by the library, according to Lisa Mulvenna, head of youth/young adult services for the library. She coordinates all programming and early childhood initiatives at the library’s three locations.

Mulvenna said this specific program is intended for play groups of kids ages 1 to 3, along with their siblings.

“We are working especially with this age group, as 90 percent of a child’s brain development happens before they are 3 (years old),” Mulvenna said.

The five-week session, which originally started Sept. 30 and was conducted every Friday, featured a different childhood expert each week. The expert talked and answered questions from parents.

For example, Mulvenna said, in the program’s trial run, a representative from Beaumont Health stopped by to talk about child development; a representative from Michigan State University Extension discussed childhood nutrition; an exercise teacher talked about the importance of childhood exercise; and a speech therapist from Henry Ford Macomb Hospitals talked about speech and language.

Even Mulvenna herself talked about the importance of early literacy.

Clinton-Macomb Public Library’s Community Relations Specialist Jamie Morris said Family Place Libraries put an emphasis on the library environment and make it accessible. She said the concept was Mulvenna’s brainchild, and the library used proceeds from its 2015 Taste of the Town fundraiser to send four staffers to Long Island, New York, to train.

By the end of next year, all three library locations will be certified Family Place Libraries.

“It was Lisa’s idea to put this concept on the radar,” Morris said. “She is a champion for early literacy and she thought it was important to have our library be the connection for parents and children to not only prepare children to read, but also to connect parents and caregivers to community resources that they might need.

“The first five-week session went over very well. The programs are capped at 13 children in order for everyone to get individual time with the stations and professionals, and we were at capacity for the first ‘Grow, Play, Learn’ workshops.”

Mulvenna added that while enrollment was limited, it allowed for children to not be overwhelmed. Families seemed to really enjoy the program, she said.

“Play is one of the key components to early literacy,” Mulvenna said. “As children play, they talk, and as they talk, they build language skills. This prepares them to get ready to read.

“We are working with families so children are ready to learn to read when they start school. Research has shown that children learn to read until third grade, then read to learn afterwards. If they don’t have those reading skills, it is more difficult for them to learn.”

“Grow, Play, Learn” is slated to return to the Main Branch in early 2017.

The program is scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. on Mondays, from Jan. 9 to Feb. 6, at the North Branch, 16800 24 Mile Road in Macomb Township. It will also take place at 10 a.m. on Thursdays, March 2-30, at the South Branch, 35679 Gratiot Ave. in Clinton Township.

Dates for the Main Branch, located at 40900 Romeo Plank Road in Clinton Township, have not been finalized at press time.

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