QUEENS — It’s never too early to start learning and that's especially true at the Queens Public Library.
The Forest Hills branch, in a neighborhood with a growing number of young families, offers a variety of free programs for kids, including classes that were recently added for tots as young as 3 months.
“The demand is great,” said Carol Goldman, a librarian who oversees most of the children’s programs at the branch on 71st Avenue, which has expanded the number of its children's activities in recent months because of the growing young population.
“This neighborhood has many families with very young children.”
The library branch offers programs like Toddler Story Time for kids 18- to 35-months old, Picture Books for Preschoolers for children 3- to 5-years old and Crafty Tuesdays for children 5-years old and up. There is also a Family Story Time program on Saturdays for kids of all ages.
And recently, it added Mother Goose for children 3- to 18-months-old, which exposes the kids to rhymes, songs and other learning materials.
In fact, the programs are so popular that the library requires advance registration for most of them.
Fuhua Zhai, a Forest Hills resident, said his 2-year old son Kevin, attended the Toddler Story Time program earlier this year. “It really developed his vocabulary and social skills,” Zhai said.
Goldman said classes usually combine reading, singing and movement. Librarians also work on children’s vocabulary development and prepare them for day-care programs and school.
“Usually there is a general theme in a program and I would tailor the songs and games to it,” she said.
Themes can include everything from early science topics, like weather, to animals and parts of the body.
Children also learn songs, to count using their fingers and do lots of physical activities. “I like to read with them and then to get them up and get them moving around,” said Goldman. “Children this age can’t be expected to sit too long and we have to channel all their energy.”
The youngest children have to be accompanied by a parent or their caregiver.
While some of the classes are cyclical, others, like the Mother Goose program, run year round, Goldman said.
Goldman also noted that the focus of actvities is to get kids used to being in the library.
“I keep the programs lively and fun because the message we definitely want to convey is that the library is a fun place,” she said. “We want them to come back.”
To learn more about the programs, go here.