Are Traditional SLP Schools Visits Worth It?
There has been an interesting discussion among a few tweeps about the efficacy of school visits to promote SLP.
One of our colleagues just can't find enough hours in the day to do them. She's at a small library with a small staff and responsibility for all services from birth through teen, plus hiring and training responsibilities and other administrative work as assistant director. Her experience and statistics show that the SLP participation has stayed about the same whether she does visits or not.
I am pretty much on the fence about it. If going to the schools in May is the only time that the library staff gets into the schools, I don't think it is particularly helpful. When I first started working, we would visit 2800 kids and get 400-500 in our program. A dismal return on our efforts. We plunged from one school to another, all squeezed into a few weeks in May. Face-to-face time with the kids was great but was that twenty minutes effective?
As the years have rolled on, we have tried to add a couple of substantive stops into each school, each year, beyond SLP promotions. My goal is for staff to see the majority of kids at least two other times - or more if we can. Strategies we've used include offering a free storytelling event; doing booktalks; running mock Caldecotts; doing Dr. Seuss programs; attending before school and after school and evening literacy nights, book fairs and other events bringing children and parents out; Kindergarten registrations; parent teacher conferences...like that. The more we offer, the more times we are taken up on our offers. Even though I've only been at my present job a little over three years, we are already seeing more buy-in from the schools for this.
It helps to build the kids' familiarity with library staff and stretches out the good connections over a longer period. Though I'm not quite ready to give up our SLP visits, I think it is indeed a possibility. Using our time better (and that includes my various rants here and here about creating more breaks in in-house programming to accomodate more outreach) means more opportunities. It sure has got me thinking. What about you?
Image - you got me. Found it on a Facebook meme. Somebody..is it yours? May I please use it?