Inspiring parents, educators, and other advocates for children to deepen their understanding and appreciation of the powerful learning that occurs in early childhood, Madison Public Library partnered with Preschool of the Arts, Overture Center for the Arts, Madison Children’s Museum, Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA) and many others to bring the Wonder of Learning exhibit to Madison in 2019.
The traveling exhibit opened to the public on January 25 in the Central Library’s Children’s Area and the Overture Center’s Playhouse Gallery, immersing visitors in the world of the much-admired Reggio Emilia philosophy of early childhood education. With support from the Madison Public Library Foundation, Youth Services collaborated with Preschool of the Arts staff to design two hands-on play spaces in the library and free family activity kits to support exploration at home.
Early childhood providers from across Dane County, the Midwest, and overseas visited the exhibit and engaged in professional development opportunities to deepen their practice. Countless early childhood education conferences came to Madison to access the learning opportunity, including the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance National Conference and the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association Conference.
The impact of The Wonder of Learning continues as the team of early learning leaders who collaborated to bring this project to life are continuing to partner in support of early childhood in Madison and beyond.
Over 13,000 educators, parents, and children visited the Children’s Area at the Central Library while the exhibit was on display from January to May 2019. Children who visited the exhibit had an interactive experience that demonstrated the importance of play to their parents and caregivers through creation of two play spaces that complemented the exhibit and fostered child-directed exploration.
Over 1,000 Wonder of Learning activity kits were given to families that visited the Children’s Area, and 500 kits were given to Reach Dane Head Start families. Kits provided hands-on materials, activity ideas, and early literacy tips for parents and caregivers to create their own positive learning experiences with children at home.
Events that ranged from a workshop facilitated by Preschool of the Arts on diversity and inclusion in early childhood settings to “Discovery Days” organized by WECA and the University of Wisconsin iSchool’s Power Up Conference for youth librarians connected more than 1,200 early childhood professionals to the exhibit and professional development opportunities at the library.
Youth Services strengthened partnerships with area early learning organizations and successfully increased awareness of the library’s role in early learning through this unique project. These relationships continue to support the library’s early literacy work and commitment to supporting young children.