Anyone else have lots of twins in storytime? What do YOU do?
I have multiple sets of twins with one adult in my baby storytime. How can I make the baby storytime experience a little bit easier for them? I do most fingerplays twice and explain my boundaries. Exploring isn’t disruptive (yet). Thank you!
I guess answers to this question depend on what in particular the parents seem to be struggling with: is it keeping 2 babies engaged, is it logistical issues, is it about managing props or materials, etc. I often have regularly-attending twins in baby storytime, however I don’t often have multiple sets of twins, so my thoughts might not be on target! I think doing all the rhymes twice is a great strategy, and lets parents switch from one baby to the next. Or maybe start storytime five minutes late to let everyone some extra time to get settled. If you have rules about no car seats or strollers in the storytime area, perhaps relaxing that rule for baby storytime might help the parents sit or engage with one baby at a time. Or setting out chairs for the adults if that makes it easier for them to sit with two babies in their lap than sitting on the floor. Or if you don’t have room for strollers or chairs, maybe put the call out for donations of those crescent shaped nursing pillows so you can hand them out to help prop up infants and/or corral wigglers and crawlers. Making sure the caregivers know that a certain amount of crawling or walking around is OK might help them feel less stressed about needing to keep two babies in their lap the whole time. Setting out board books throughout the room could let adults grab one and share it with a baby whose attention might be wandering a bit. For content, it might be a help to keep your songs and bounces on the super-familiar side, so that caregivers don’t have to figure out words and actions while also dividing their attention between two babies. Or just a little thing like not trying to get scarves or egg shakers back once you hand them out—getting them all back is just one more thing everyone needs to try to do twice. If your families are comfortable with it, you might investigate recruiting volunteers who would be happy to be an extra pair of hands during storytime. Or maybe you have some experienced teen sitters you could use over the summer—a local Girl Scout troop might know of some, or your local Red Cross could share information about summer baby storytimes during their babysitter trainings. This was a really scattershot list of ideas—let us know if there’s a specific type of idea you were looking for!
I really like what Melissa said, and so I’ll just add or reiterate a couple more ideas that have worked for me. I don’t have twins nor have I worked with them in baby time before, but these ideas might still help (I did have triplets in toddler time once–that mom sure knew how to juggle!) In our baby time, we make sure parents know at the beginning that kids that age often can’t sit still the whole time and that’s TOTALLY okay. The kids are free to explore but if they come up to the felt board or to where our computer and wires are, that they grab their child for us. This really helps create a more stress-free, fun environment for parents. We also repeat rhymes twice, but what’s great is that the majority of our program, say 80-90%, is all repeated from week to week. So, not only do the parents know and really participate, but the babies do too! It’s cute to see them get excited for their favorite ones. The repetition creates a comfortable environment for them, where they want to participate, and they have a lot of fun. Maybe, with twins, just be aware of what songs/actions can be done whether you’re holding one child or two. I also agree that it’s much easier to pass out props and not gather them up again. Just give the participants lots of chances to have a stress free time. Be flexible and it’ll be good!
Going in the same vein as Emily and Mel, I have to reiterate that flexibility is key. Give everyone lots of time to settle in and lend a hand if you can. Lots of nannies and moms of twins/siblings shoo me away when I offer to help with strollers and jackets and whatnots, citing that they’re “used to it”. But when someone does take me up on it and I get to assist anyone with multiple children, I hope I’m setting the tone that I’m there if they need anything. Sure, my main goal is to facilitate the program, but if I can make things easier for patrons while I’m doing it, all the better.
I don’t like to saturate the baby program with noisy toys, but I make sure to put out lots of stuffed animals, soft blocks, pillows, and the like. Maybe these kinds of soft and not-noisy, not-distracting toys could help your families with multiple kids. They certainly cut down on the fuss-factor.
If I notice twins in crowd, I’ll ask to “borrow” one of them for bouncing songs and fingerplays. If the baby is amenable to being held by me, I’ll use them to demonstrate the song. That way, the caregiver can get a little break and both babies can get some attention.