ELF: Library Services for Families with Young Children

The Early Learning with Families – ELF- initiative supports California libraries as they enhance early learning services for families with infants, toddlers and preschoolers and as centers of community activity, provide opportunities for the healthy development of young children. ELF libraries create engaging, interactive programs for young children with their parents and caregivers that support family strengths and respond to community needs.

More about ELF Mission

ELF Blog

The California State Library's Early Learning with Families (ELF) program was funded through 2010. For more information about ELF contact:

California State Library
Library Development Services Bureau
Fax: 916-653-8443

Did You Know?

Whole Child Development

It’s important that all aspects of a child - social, emotional, physical and cognitive – are stimulated and have an opportunity to develop. Provide opportunities for fun with sound and music, stories, play, engagement with parents, interaction with other children as well as movement and physical activity.

Parents and Caregivers

The parent and caregiver know their child better than anyone. Let parents know the importance of this expertise by deferring to them and actively involving them in ELF activities.

Always Respond to Cries

Infants cannot be spoiled. They cry because they need attention. When the parent responds, the infant becomes more comfortable and knows that he has someone on which he can rely for care.

Join Your Child in Play

Encourage parents to join their child in play, have fun together and delight in their discoveries. It’s through these personal interactions that their curiosity and eagerness to learn is reinforced and becomes a lifelong quest.

Playing and Learning

A child’s job is to play. This is how they discover, experiment, explore and learn the essentials of navigating their world and develop the self-confidence to do it.

Parent/Child Relationship

The relationship between the parent and child is the most critical aspect in promoting early learning. Provide opportunities for parents to interact with their infant and toddler so they can encourage engagement and promote learning.

Fathers and Learning

Fathers have an important role in a child’s development and may be overlooked. Through their involvement, children tend to develop into better problem-solvers and to become more self-confident.

Everyday Literacy

Encourage families to take advantage of everyday activities like diaper changing and going to the store to talk to their child. Suggest that they make up nonsense rhyming words, read labels and share new vocabulary. Their little ones will learn language by hearing all kinds of sound.

Developing Literacy Early

Talk, sing, rhyme and read to little ones beginning at birth. Invite infants and toddlers to be part of ELF activities. This interaction is essential and serves as a rich foundation in language and pre-literacy for future success in school.

Children Provide Direction

Take direction from the children. Rather than creating the direction, attend to their signals and respond to their cues. They know their own capacity and interests.

Routine for Infants and Toddlers

Create routines for infants and toddlers. It’s the way babies develop trust about their surroundings and a sense that they can count on predictable activities and responses.

Teaching As Discipline

Discipline means, “to teach.” So rather than inflicting punishment, redirect the child’s attention and explain the reason why. Setting limits and being consistent is helpful to a child and the development of their self-control.

Imitating Sounds

When parents imitate infant’s gurgles and use a playful loving voice, they are engaging their child. Have parents repeat sounds and words then listen for their infant’s response.

Next Tip

Concepts in Practice

Many California libraries have spent years dedicating resources and staff expertise to designing early learning services for families. It is through their work and the more recent efforts of the ELF initiative that promising practices have expanded.

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