Topic: Rainbow Kids

Topic type:

The Rainbow Kids pre-school programme at Masterton District Library



Rainbow Kids

Rainbow Kids

One of the great success stories at Masterton District Library is our Rainbow Kids Preschool Programme. The Library has been delivering a weekly programme for pre-school kids since 1992 and we see many former participants coming in and using the library as teenagers, one even has a part time job here! For the last 8 years the programme has been known as Rainbow Kids and it is offered every Wednesday during term time at 10:30am, and at no charge for participants.

The main aim and rationale of the Rainbow Kids programme is to encourage literacy in pre-school children but there are many additional benefits. The habits the children pick up such as quiet sitting, listening and following instructions are of great benefit to them when they get to school. The craft activities encourage the development of basic skills such as cutting and colouring and are designed so that there will be something for all ages of preschoolers to take part in. The sessions are also a great opportunities for new parents to develop networks with others in the area.

The promotion of literacy is of course a very important goal and the Rainbow Kids programme tries to achieve this in a number of ways. Reading stories to young children enables them to learn a great deal about how books work, how a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, how the words have meaning that can be read, and how pictures and words can be related. These lessons are invaluable when the child begins to read for him or herself, and a child who is already familiar with words and books is able to achieve this transition with greater ease than one who is not. The programme also helps demonstrate to young parents the great value in shared reading and exposes them to a great range of stories that they can take home and share with their children.

There is also great benefit, for parents and children, in getting to know library staff and how libraries work. The Rainbow Kids programme has enabled staff to develop some wonderful and long lasting relationships with children and their parents. Two members of staff are assigned to deliver the programme and they are only too happy to offer advice or assistance to help with a child's reading and book selection. As with books, early familiarity with the library is a great asset as the children grow older and look to find stories or information for themselves

The general format for a Rainbow Kids session is a 20-25 minute period of storytelling followed by a craft activity, the whole session usually taking 45 minutes to an hour. Generally the stories and craft will be related to an overriding theme and past themes have included Shapes, Elephants and Fun in the Park. Occasionally the sessions will be augmented by trips to outside locations such as the Shear History Museum, or visits from special guests including a visit from a very special guest each Christmas.

Sessions take place in the children's section of the library and there are times when it appears the programme is becoming a victim of its own success. When the area is filled with children, their parents and caregivers and the assorted buggies and strollers required to get them here, it can become quite crowded. The planned expansion of the library space should help alleviate this problem but in the meantime the sessions are sometimes noisy but always fun, so come along for this free, beneficial, and hugely enjoyable programme.