How to Teach Your Children to Use the Library
Too many parents see the library as a drop off place for their children after school. Many of these children have not been taught how to use the library or how to behave, once there. But here, homeschoolers are different. Often the family comes in together. The children are usually well-behaved. They know what they want and how to find it. If they can’t find it, they know how to get the help they need. These skills do not come automatically as part of our “homeschool DNA,” they must be taught.
So, what do your children need to know in order to use the library, and when should they know it?
- Use their “inside voices.”
- Walk in the library.
- Where to put books when they have finished using them.
- Where their favorite books are located.
- The alphabetical arrangement of the picture book section.
- How to take care of their books.
- The librarian is their friend. They should be able to ask the librarian for help and be able to tell the librarian if they accidentally damage a book.
Elementary Age Children
- How to look for books that meet your family’s standards.
- How to keep track of when their books are due.
- How to use the Dewey Decimal System. One of my library school professors told us the story of a caveman as a way of learning it. A version of this story can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLU_IA8b5Os.
This video has a rhyme for remembering the Dewey Decimal System at the end: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lC4mlKcbmU
- How to use the online catalog and online research tools in addition to the traditional library tools.
- Teach older children how to evaluate websites using RADCAB (http://www.radcab.com).
If your teens have been going to the library their entire lives, what else is there to teach them? They know library rules and etiquette. They know how to find books and information. But they may desire more freedom. They may want to use the library’s technology for more than school-related research. Before you turn them loose with the library’s technology, consider these points:
- Do they understand the library’s policies regarding the Internet? Do they know your family’s standards for Internet usage? Just because the library’s rules may be somewhat different than your family’s rules doesn’t mean they can forget what your family believes.
- Do they understand the dangers of going online? Even the most responsible teen can accidentally find himself or herself on a questionable site. If your library offers an Internet or social media safety course, have your teen take it.
- If you haven’t done so already, teach your teens how to evaluate websites using the above link to RADCAB.
Knowing how to use the library is a skill your children will use in one way or another their entire lives. If you haven’t already started teaching them these skills, it’s never too late to start. So, get to your local library and get learning!
Karen Robuck is a homeschooling mother of two. She holds degrees from Blue Mountain College, a Christian liberal arts college in northeast Mississippi, and from the University of Southern Mississippi. She considers her homeschooling style to be literature-based eclectic. Formerly a teacher and librarian, she is currently working in media support for a local community college. She lives in Pontotoc, MS with her husband and two children.