By JEANNE STARMACK | firstname.lastname@example.org
At the Children’s Room in the Hubbard Library, they have a theory: You’re never too young to learn.
Take Eve, for example. She’s 15 months old now, and she’s been coming to the library’s preliteracy program, called Rhythm and Rhyme, since she was 16 weeks old.
“Some people think, ‘16 weeks?’” said Children’s Room assistant Dana Tirabassi, who would be leading the program for the approximately 20 toddlers who’d gathered there recently with their parents.
“But it’s important for them,” she continued. “We encourage you to start reading to your baby at birth.”
The library has had a program for babies for 25 years, she said. Last year it began the current program, which uses songs, repetition of rhyme and movement to teach not only words but motor skills, patience, how to take turns and even that basic command that every parent uses, many times without success: “Stop!”
The program caters to an age group, 0 to 24 months, that is not known for long attention spans.
But the 5-week-long program has a way of coaxing them into learning those lessons.
It’s an exciting moment, Tirabassi said, when the program’s repetition gets through to a child.
“You’ll literally see the light go on — in their faces,” she said. “They recognize it!”
Eve truly has benefited from the program, said her mother, Mary Lou Reder, right before the kids and their parents headed down the hall to begin activities in the library media room.
“She’s learning different words for sure,” Reder said. She’s learning a lot of social skills — interacting and making friends at an early age.
Considering the age group, there didn’t seem to be a shy one in the bunch.
Adalynn DeLuca, 14 months, shared one of her wooden blocks with Jax Flynn, 21 months, knocking him over in the process.
“She loves this. She never sits still!” said Adalynn’s father, Dan.
In the media room, parents sat on the floor with their children as the first activity began: “Welcome, welcome, everyone. ... Now you’re here, let’s have some fun!” Tirabassi said.
The toddlers didn’t sing along much from that first song to the last. Some of their parents had to help them clap. But the smiles were bright, and the attention was rapt.
At one point, 2-year-old Jimmy Wick approached Tirabassi and watched her closely as she led a rhyme.
Tirabassi saw the light come on. “He’s getting it!” she said. “He’s got it!”
How are they learning the best lesson of all for any parent who’s had to chase a running toddler through a crowded store? In a circle, they ran around the room to the beat of a frame drum, clinging to their parents’ hands: “We’re running to the drum, we’re running to the drum,” Tirabassi sang. “And the drum says, “Stop!”
In their tracks, they did.