Pathfinder Treasure Nguyen: Give Me 5: Prepping Preschoolers for School!

Pathfinder is a series of blogs about intrepid library staff who are leading interesting programs that you may not yet know about.

Treasure Nguyen (they/them) is a valued member of the Library's Early Education Department.

Treasure tells me that the Library provides many fond memories for them:

As a result, Treasure felt like they wanted to "pass it forward" by volunteering at the Library.  They contacted our Volunteer Coordinator at the time, Robert Miranda, who hired them to take pictures at Library events, to be a Reading to Children Volunteer, and to act as an Art Docent.  Along the way, Treasure made valuable working relationships with Library staff, including Bridget, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s youth services librarian and Jason Pell, the current Volunteer Coordinator.

Treasure says,

"Those volunteer roles were great entryways for me to learn more about the different communities and local histories of my hometown of San José. It was through casual volunteering that I learned about the AmeriCorps VISTA positions that had opened up at the King Library, also coordinated by Jason Pell."

The two-year AmeriCorps VISTA position allowed Treasure "to be part of such a caring and passionate team."  They say that they "learned so much, both about myself and about the communities that we as a library serve."

Now a Literacy Outreach Specialist in the Early Education Department, Treasure says that one of their most favorite things about their work is:

"being able to intentionally uplift marginalized voices and continually partnering with families and community members to create programming and services that truly reflect their interests and needs."

Treasure's latest assignment, Give Me 5, is an Early Education Department program that is trying to fulfill the need of preparing young children for one of the biggest transitions in their lives: going to school.

Treasure Introduces Give Me 5 to Parents and Caregivers

There are several obstacles in the way for a child's success in kindergarten.

A notable research study in 2018-2019 shows the importance of kindergarten readiness.

In 2018-2019, Maryland's State Department of Education conducted a study called "Ready at Five."  This research study examined "the "readiness" of Maryland communities, families, schools, and early childhood programs to prepare children for the future."  Maryland, like 40 other states, conducts a kindergarten assessment.  Based upon the assessment, only 47% of students are ready to engage in kindergarten curriculum.

Maryland's research unearthed 3 factors that were lowering a student's chance to successfully engage in kindergarten:

  1. Parents "experience limited access to early childhood education services, especially vulnerable families including families of children with special needs, families of English learners, immigrant families, low-income families and families living in rural areas."
  2. "Families struggle to navigate the early childhood system, and parents often do not know about programs and services available to them, including critical mental health services."
  3. "Early education professionals experience access barriers to teacher preparation and professional development programs which leads to a shortage of a qualified workforce across the state."

In addition to these barriers, parents in San José must also contend with skyrocketing preschool costs: approximately $20,000.00 per year, according to a San José Mercury News article.

As such, Treasure and their colleagues in the Library's Early Education Department realized that an affordable way to ensure kindergarten success lay with a child's caregivers.  As a result, Treasure is spearheading a program at the Library called Give Me 5.  Give Me 5 will be addressing the first 2 factors listed above.

Here are some comments from parents who have used other Early Education programming:

"We love that the same teachers come in every week. This is really critical for children to become familiar and develop a warm relationship with the teacher (given the current Covid conditions). These classes play a very important part in having a schedule for our kids who now don't go to a school. It's something they look forward to in the morning and it's something we talk about all day - recollecting the songs, the tunes, the stories and the characters. We love the teachers and are super thankful to SJPL for having such a consistent and wonderful program. Please keep doing this - we are ardent fans in our family!"

"I thought the program was great and engaging! It's been very tough finding fun things to do with the children while at home and this was perfect! The program was fun and provided some of the socialization that she missed so much. The start time of 10:30 a.m. was perfect too! It would be awesome if you are able to continue with these daily programs. Thanks and much appreciated!"

"The concept is great and very beneficial to the kids and parents of our community. The host was excellent and engaging. She handled tech issues well and put a positive spin on it for the kids to learn life skills."

"We loved the teacher - who was full of "a happy energy". We hope the library continues to organize these programs. Thank you so much for providing such fun programs!! My daughter enjoyed so much!!"

"Great Supercharged Storytime. Liked all those Early Literacy techniques!"

Give Me 5: What to Expect

Treasure tells me,

"Give Me 5 is a structured 5-week play-and-learn series for caregivers and their children ages 0-5. Designed to support kindergarten readiness for children & engage caregivers in providing hands-on support in their children’s development. A goal of Give Me 5 is that the facilitator is not the one sharing & teaching new things to the children and families, but rather that caregivers are positioned through the educational fun activities to help children learn."

Here is a typical agenda for each of the 5 sessions:

  1. Welcome
  2. Group Discussion
  3. Activity 1
  4. Reading Station/Activity 2
  5. Reflection
  6. Closing

Here are some of the kindergarten skills that will be explored:

  • curiosity
  • persistence
  • self-regulation
  • math and critical thinking
  • personal care
  • motor skills
  • social-emotional development
  • science
  • critical thinking
  • language
  • early literacy
  • phonological awareness

Here are some learning outcomes that parents and caregivers can expect, according to Treasure:

  • Families build a learning community with each other.
  • Families learn good personal care practices through experimentation.
  • Families work together to complete activities that support motor development and can be easily replicated at home
  • Parents and caregivers discuss with children aspects of friendship and strong social connections.
  • Families work together to complete activities that promote social-emotional understanding and development by building a child’s emotion vocabulary
  • Families discuss perseverance and curiosity.
  • Families work together to complete fun activities that support critical thinking, math and science skills and can be replicated at home.
  • Families discuss interactive book-sharing & share their techniques for reading interactively with children.
  • Families complete fun activities that teach early literacy & can be replicated at home.

Where Can I Sign Up?

Excited about signing up for this wonderful program?  Here are the libraries that will be providing Give Me 5 this summer:

Go to our Events page, search by "Give Me 5" and limit it to the most convenient library from the list above!

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below!