Once a month you can find the friendly faces of First Steps Home Visitors singing, reading books, and elbow deep in arts and craft. Tucked into the little reading nook in the Children’s Library at the Taos Public Library you’ll find the happy bunch of 10-20 youngsters and their parents, grandparents, and babysitters joining in the StoryTime activities. The First Steps program began this partnership in October 2018 as an outreach opportunity focusing on early literacy. This type of outreach, introduced by Feliz Medina and Kathy Theriot Home Visitors at First Steps, was an innovative idea inspired by the Embudo Valley Library’s Caterpillar Club. Caterpillar Club is a high-quality, research-based, fun, interactive weekly program that has created a strong community of families and a rich learning environment for children. Something the Taos Library voiced they wanted to see happen in Taos. Kathy and Feliz developed an age-appropriate curriculum focused on emotional intelligence and early literacy. Songs and crafts were carefully selected to enhance developmental skills like fine motor, problem solving, and focus as well as making the activities fun for parents to get involved with.
Research shows that strong bonds between parent/caregiver and child promote overall development so all activities and songs were designed with this in mind. “I love hearing from parents or other agencies that our songs or crafts are being done at home, or with friends at playgroups. That the fun and joy we share together on Thursdays lasts long after.” says Kathy one of the group’s founders and facilitator. “That’s what it’s really all about. Helping parents find fun ways to connect with their child.”
This month marks the 1-year friendship and collaboration between the 2 programs, a big celebration for both agencies. Because of the strong attendance and engagement from families, the Taos Children’s library will now be offering the same curriculum First Steps brings on a monthly basis to their weekly group. Margaret, a mom of two youngsters who regularly attends says “Rory likes everything about StoryTime and it has become our Thursday morning routine. It is an excellent free activity that I would recommend to parents of young children in Taos.”
StoryTime is not just available in Taos. The Questa Public Library’s Kitty Club was founded in January 2019 and also meets once a month facilitated by Kathy and Carla Vigil, fellow home visitor covering the northern region. A recent addition to the StoryTime club is the monthly group at The S.P.O.T in Peñasco, headed by Feliz and Ana Medina, veteran Home Visitor to the south. Jaci Imberger, First Steps Program Director stated, “First Steps is grateful for the warm welcome from our community partners. This collaboration has allowed us to reach families in Dixon, Northern Rio Arriba county, Questa and the Taos community. I’m glad for families to meet the home visitors in this way and learn more about our services.”
The purpose of Storytime is not just reading, it’s about making connections with your child, with other parents, and with the community through song, fun, movement, and story. Come join us on Thursdays!