Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mother Goose on the Loose

Last week, two of my staff members and I went to a training on the Mother Goose on the Loose program by Dr. Betsy Diamant-Cohen. The training was brought to several libraries around Indiana by the Indiana Library Federation, so we were able to attend for free. You guys, it was awesome.

Mother Goose on the Loose is a program that Betsy developed for kids under 2 with a parent or caregiver. I'll admit it: baby programming intimidates me. Maybe it's because I don't have any kids and have never really been around babies all that much. But I'm all like I don't know what to do with babies at a program! What can they even DO?

MGOL calls for a safe, welcoming, joyful environment. Lots of rhymes and songs. Lots of repetition. And lots of different activities to move things along. And Betsy presented it in such a way that my staff and I feel comfortable doing it and excited about doing it at our library! We wanted to run back and try it right away.

Betsy started the training by talking about how she developed the program in Israel and how she brought it back to the States. She talked about brain research and the importance of developing social and emotional skills in the very young.

Then she sat us down in a big circle and went through an extended MGOL program, showing us exactly what she would do, what she would say, what the order of activities would be. For every rhyme and song she does it twice - once for participants to hear it and the second time for them to say/sing it along with her. The program calls for lots of repetition from week to week, so it helps parents learn new songs and rhymes and games for their kids.

After that, we talked about school readiness and how the skills practiced in MGOL programs (like taking turns, being patient, clapping for each other, following instructions) help kids get ready to start kindergarten. It was actually really inspiring to directly see the connection between activities done at the program and the skills they're developing.

THIS is the training I wish I'd had in library school. I'm so glad to have had it now. If you're a librarian and you get a chance to go to a Mother Goose on the Loose training, I highly recommend it. Suggest it to your library system or your director. Bring Betsy in for your staff on a development day.

And if you're a parent of a very young one, check if your local library offers MGOL. If they don't offer any sort of baby programming, let them know they should! Point them to the website (and even this blog post if you wish).

I don't mean to gush (I promise she's not paying me!), but it was a wonderful training and it's gotten us so excited to offer this program at our library. If you're not able to attend a training, Betsy has also written a huge MGOL manual that you can purchase. You can also get a 2-CD set that includes an entire MGOL program and additional songs and rhymes you can use.

But I can't recommend the training enough. Betsy is an inspiring, knowledgeable, friendly person, and I don't see how anyone could see her enthusiasm for this program and not become enthusiastic herself.