My storytime is billed as an “all-ages” storytime, but is mostly frequented by children who are just beginning to walk. When I took over this storytime in January, these children were mostly lap babies who were just beginning to notice the things around them and would crawl around from time to time. However, a few months means a significant developmental growth period, and those lap babies are now active toddlers! As I'm sure is the case for many of you, we have some weeks where sitting down is just not something that they want to do. And, just like when you give a mouse a cookie, if a child sees another child doing something, he or she is going to want to do that, too. So, this led my storytime to be more of an active movement day than the shape comparison storytime I had intended.
I thought it might be nice to share some of the things that I’ve learned through this process of managing children in this age group, as the first time my storytime participants decided to make the space a jungle gym was tough for me to handle. I’ve build some resilience during these past several months, but it can still be challenging.
Here’s some things I’ve learned:
Don’t fight the current - if your group is moving around and not wanting to sit for a story, scrap your storytime plans and incorporate songs and movements to keep the children engaged.
They’re still listening - toddlers don’t need to be sitting down to listen to you. More often than not, they are doing their best listening as their bodies are active. This is also a great place to insert an Early Literacy parent tip - even if your toddler isn’t looking at you, he or she is still listening to what you’re saying.
Change it up - sometimes, the element of surprise is all you need to get back the attention you seek.
Ask for help - there are parents and caregivers in every storytime. It’s ok to recognize the situation for what it is and ask for help wrangling children. It’s nice for parents to see that you’re a human, too.
I’m sure there will be more tips and tricks along the way, but here’s a good place to start. :)
Have fun out there!