- October 30, 2014
Back-to-school time is upon us, with Orange County public school students starting classes Aug. 10 and many private schools doing the same or starting just a week later. So as the Winter Park Public Library wraps up its Summer Reading Challenge and you reset your alarm clocks to match bus schedules and make drop-offs, we want to remind you that fun and education at the WPPL don’t end with summer vacation. There are many ways the WPPL can help your family transition back into the school year and get a jump-start on academic success.
First and foremost, let us help you keep reading to your children, even older kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics conducted studies that show clear benefits for reading aloud to children beginning in infancy and continuing throughout their development. In this age of ubiquitous electronics, reading aloud expands attention spans. When caregivers read aloud to children, it enhances language acquisition, vocabulary, literacy skills and reading fluency.
Starting the school year off with a routine of family read-alouds sets the tone for a successful school year. If you aren’t sure what to read, our staff of four Youth Services librarians are pros at recommending titles that match the interests and needs of your children and family.
Thanks to a generous gift from the Harvey and Carol Massey Foundation, we can save you a trip to the bookstore with our large collection of Sunshine State Books, required reading for many elementary and middle school students. For grades five through seven, the Ravenous Readers Book Club helps kids make good progress through the Sunshine State reading list by tackling a different book from the list each month.
Many parents, especially at the start of a school year, tell us that their children are too shy or uncomfortable to read aloud in class. Some say their children just don’t find reading interesting. Our Paws to Read program, in partnership with Be An Angel Therapy Dogs, has been very successful in encouraging reluctant readers. Through Paws to Read, young people read aloud to specially trained dogs and receive incentives for doing so. For many program participants, having a furry, nonjudgmental “audience” to read to is just what they needed to get over their reluctance.
Homework is the bane of the school year for many families, but the WPPL can help with that as well. Our experienced librarians have shepherded thousands of students through the homework assignments local schools assign each year. They can easily guide young users to the resources they need for success in annual school projects such as biographies, stories of the holocaust, international authors, and science fair.
Of course the library provides powerful online tools students need to research for school work. We offer InfoTrac, EBSCOhost, World Book Online, Biography in Context and many other Web-based services that are of great assistance to local students in their studies.
As part of our partnership with Winter Park-area schools, the WPPL offers a “homework card” that allows students at any of these schools access to the library’s computers and online research tools even if they don’t have a full-service WPPL card.
For older high school students, back-to-school means preparing to take the SAT and set their sights on college applications. Several times a year, we offer a “Prepare, Don’t Panic” SAT preparation class that includes practice tests with scoring, parent info sessions and test-strategies. The next session of this free offering will be Saturday, Sept. 10 and is a great way to reduce the test anxiety many students experience.
While we make sure we incorporate sound educational components into almost all of our youth programming, there is also great value in the stress relief that comes from participating in the fun activities the WPPL offers kids and families. Whether it’s spending some time designing a creation at Lego Club or going on a scavenger hunt through the library after R.E.A.D. (Read, Eat and Discuss) Club or enjoying pizza after a Teen Advisory Board meeting, the WPPL provides safe, age-appropriate opportunities for young people to relax after the structure of the school day.
So take a browse through the WPPL Classes & Events calendar at www.wppl.org and see how the WPPL can make back-to-school easier for your family. We, too, will miss the summer, but we welcome the new opportunities to service the children and families of Winter Park.