By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Every month the 4-year-olds from the Happy Hour Preschool make their pilgrimage to the Marlborough Public Library on a big yellow school bus. There, they use their library cards to check out a book of their choice, have “free play” with the blocks, puppet stage, and other items and listen to a story read by their teacher, Barbara Cooper.
For many of these children, this gives them an opportunity to experience the library for the first time as well as learn how to use the library and check out books with their very own library card. These young children are already demonstrating their love of reading.
“We have a five-day program geared toward kids that miss the cut-off, which is Aug. 31 in this school district,” explained Barbara Masterson, director of the nonprofit Happy Hours Preschool. “We designed a program like ‘pre-K’ and put the library program in place to support our literacy piece. We have been running the five-day program for over 10 years.”
Masterson has worked closely with Cooper for the past 18 years.
Within the classroom, Cooper uses a Pictionary sign language book, which incorporates letters with sign language. This is also another great way to communicate.
“The letter books enhance the Pictionary sign language book. We send each child home with their own letter book at the beginning of each week,” Cooper said. “It comes back at the end of the week and children get an opportunity to present their book. Here they learn simple sentence structure and letter association. This also gives them skills to speak in front of people and helps to build confidence.”
Later in the school year, the children will make some simple books of their own reinforcing numbers and words.
The visit to the library helps to foster the love of pleasure reading for these young kids. The story that they heard when they visited Feb. 12 was “Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors” by Joyce Sidman.
“We have already introduced the letter ‘R’ so this book selection can help to reinforce words that begin with this letter,” Cooper said.
“Just the idea of also having the students ride the big yellow school bus helps to take the fear out of doing this at the beginning of the school year, which they will be entering next fall. They absolutely love it!” Masterson said.
The children also visited with the library’s pet red-eared slider turtle named Spike. She joined the library in November and is the first thing these young ones see upon entering the Children’s Room every month.
Happy Hours Preschool is just one of the many programs at the Boys & Girls Club of Metrowest, located at 169 Pleasant St. They are having an open house Friday, Feb. 27, from 9:30-11 a.m. They are also currently accepting enrollment for September preschool. There are two-, three- and five-day programs available for children between the ages of 2.9 through 5.
For more information, call Barbara Masterson at 508-485-4912 or visit www.bgcmetrowest.org and go to “Pleasant Street Club House” and “Happy Hours Preschool.”