Science Kits Advance Children’s Literacy
Oftentimes, homeschool students are forgotten or overlooked. At North Regional Library in Durham, they are doing more than just recognizing these students. Thanks to the support of the Durham Library Foundation, this library is leading the way for homeschool enrichment in Durham.
Due to the more rural demographics in North Durham, a large number of families homeschool their children. North Regional has a longstanding relationship with these families. This relationship eventually led to the formation of the Homeschool Learning Lab. The lab, a weekly program targeted towards K-12 homeschool students, strives to provide educational resources and support for local families.
Once the pandemic hit, the team at North Regional was determined to find a way to continue to serve their students.
After seeing the success of Main Library’s curbside pickup program, North Regional decided to initiate a similar program. Using a grant from the Foundation, North Regional will produce Homeschool Lab Kits for their homeschool families. The take-home kits focus on themes ranging from geology to chemistry and will consist of a hands-on activity using items such as bakers, test tubes and circulating microscopes.
The science kits will supplement and enhance these students' education—hands-on experiences are known to make a lasting impression on young minds. Experiences like these also help close the wealth gap among homeschool families. While public schools often have the resources for hands-on activities, many homeschool parents cannot afford the same activities.
“Often, homeschool students or low-income families don't have the materials needed to fully immerse themselves in the joy of scientific curiosity and discovery at home,” said Desiree Peterson, adult service unit manager at North Regional. “We hope that having access to these supplies will allow people to really indulge in an exploration that would otherwise be inaccessible.”
The kits will also have a positive impact on children’s literacy in Durham. Each of these kits comes with librarian-selected books for students to continue their education. Providing these books eliminates the extra step of coming back to the library and searching for books, which can be a hassle for many parents.
Students will also have the opportunity to improve their digital literacy skills.
Every Thursday, the library invites students to attend a live virtual event on Zoom to complete the activity alongside a librarian and other students. These events allow students to practice their computer skills and interact with others online.
To support the science kits, the Foundation provided $4,000. These funds will cover the production of 16 kits that will begin to circulate this spring. The North Regional library team believes that the Homeschool Lab Kits are a truly unique collection for Durham County Library that will enrich the lives of homeschool families and others in Durham.