STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
LLANO — Helping families become stronger units is at the core of why the Llano County Library is part of the Family Place Library national network.
To help families achieve that goal, the library is hosting its annual Play and Learn Series (PALS), a free five-week workshop with programs 10-11:30 a.m. Mondays, March 19-April 16, at 102 E. Haynie St. To register, call the library at (325) 247-5248 or visit in person.
PALS is designed for children from newborn to age 3 and their parents or caregivers, emphasizing the importance of spending time together doing activities.
During the first program, Texas Game Warden Samuel Padgett will speak to the group about safety with children and wild animals.
“In the spring, there are always baby animals about, and children are naturally curious,” said children’s librarian Ann Rossberg. “Sam has a vast amount of information about the dos and don’ts for parents.”
On March 26, a speech therapist will address the group, while on April 2, Valerie Smasal, owner of Calamity and Grace Art Gallery, will discuss the importance of art in playtime.
Public health nurse Amanda Dukes-Gann of the Texas Department of State Health Services will talk about children’s health concerns April 9, and a child development professional leads the discussion April 16.
Since so many parents are working two jobs or one is working during the day while the other is working at night, they may not be able to observe their babies and behaviors as closely as they want. The PALS workshops give the adults a chance to watch their children and play with them and ask questions of the professionals about certain behaviors displayed by the youngsters.
“By spending time playing with them, you’re watching what kids are gravitating to,” Rossberg said.
She noted some parents see their 2-year-old child making friends with the other toddlers, while some are playing by themselves. Some parents have asked the professional if the behavior is appropriate for that age, other social skills, and development.
Some have asked why their child is sitting in a corner by themselves or why their toddler is taking objects out of the hands of other children, Rossberg said.
“The professionals can tell them if it’s age-appropriate,” she said.
She emphasized the workshops aren’t about correcting behavior; they’re about giving parents valuable tools so they know who to contact with more questions.
“It’s getting the word out,” the librarian said. “You’re not alone in this.”
As part of the workshops, there are play areas where the child and parent go. Since it’s at a library, books also are available.
“We’ll turn kids loose and let them play with parents,” Rossberg said. “They’ll put phones away and sit on the floor and play with them. We need to get back to basic playing.”
The workshops are free with the help of a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act and, in part, by a state-funded grant from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Each guest speaker is also donating his or her time.