Time to Change the “Checklist”: A Toolkit for Reimagining School Readiness

Elizabeth Mills /

The Bay Area Discovery Museum has published a free, online Reimagining School Readiness Toolkit, with an easy-to-use structure for incorporating important learning skills and practices into the programs in your library.

Programming at your library

Promising Practices Guide cover with image of a man and child doing an activity together

When you think of getting ready for school, you may picture a checklist with objects to buy, such as colorful backpacks chock-full of pencils, notebooks, a laptop, early reader books, and math workbooks. You might not think of providing opportunities for children to engage in these skills and practices:

  • Rich conversations with adults that naturally build vocabulary and knowledge
  • Play and socializing with other children
  • Practicing conceptual math skills, such as playing with shapes
  • Using science methods and concepts, such as making predictions and testing hypotheses
  • Opportunities for planning and reflection to build executive function skills

And yet, research has shown that these skills and practices are crucially linked to later academic and lifelong achievement. So let’s change the checklist!

In fact, libraries are perfect places for children to develop these early learning skills and practices in programs such as storytimes, play groups, and STEM/STEAM workshops. You may already be offering these kinds of opportunities at your library, but perhaps you aren’t sure of the reason for some of these concepts. Or maybe you want some planning and assessment tools to help you learn and communicate the impact of this programming for the families in your community.

Libraries are perfect places for children to develop these crucial skills and practices in programs like storytimes, play groups, and others.

Reimagining School Readiness Toolkit

Well, you’re in luck! The Bay Area Discovery Museum has published a free, online Reimagining School Readiness Toolkit, with an easy-to-use structure for incorporating these important skills and practices into programs in your library.

The Toolkit is organized around three skill areas, each represented by an icon for easy identification and discussion with parents and caregivers.

three icons including two heads with the words 'talk and play,' an anthropomorphic brain holding a dumbbell with the words 'body and brain,' and a beaker and math symbols with the words 'science and math.'

Visually appealing, approachable components enable you to pick and choose what you want to implement, based on your time, interest, and programming needs. You can dip your toe in with quick planning and activity ideas, available in the Promising Practices Booklet, which also contains a planning sheet and a reflection sheet, and a program survey to get that crucial feedback from your families. And if you have time, you can dive deep into the foundational research to learn about the background of the Toolkit.

And the Toolkit includes a variety of ancillary printable materials that you can hand out or use for programming in the library—bookmarks, activity cards, flyers, social media prompts, and more—to encourage parents and caregivers to continue the learning at home, as their child’s first and best teacher.

These materials are also translated into six languages—English, Chinese, Farsi, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese—to support your whole community.

Putting learning into practice

Are you ready to start designing learning-rich programs for young children at your library that reimagine school readiness and change the checklist?

Then check out the Toolkit and view the webinar recording, Tools for Reimagining School Readiness, in which you can hear from librarians who are implementing this work in their own libraries and communities!

View recording

View webinar recording

Tools for Reimagining School Readiness
60 minutes

This webinar introduces library staff to the background and components of the Toolkit, along with testimonials from practitioners about how they are reimagining school readiness in their own libraries. You’ll come away with ideas and strategies for supporting your families and communities

View webinar