How National Library Board Is Making Learning And Reading Fun For Children

Deepshikha Punj
·7-min read

Last year, COVID-19 forced families to take learning into their homes. So many stepped up their remote learning efforts. While others made digital resources a part of their child’s learning and reading routine. And today, online learning is a mainstay of the new normal.

 

In response to the pandemic, the National Library Board (NLB) expanded its digital offerings for families and children. Parents welcomed this move so much so that NLB’s digital uptake increased by 46.5 percent. The board also combined digital offerings with physical programmes, books, and reading materials. This was done to make learning and reading experience fun and impactful for kids.

 

We spoke to Lynn Chua, Deputy Director, Children And Teens, National Library Board about these enhancements. Chua also shared her advice for parents to ensure that kids consume quality content through online learning.

Here’s an excerpt from the interview.

Lynn Chua On Consuming Quality Content Through E-learning 

TAP: Why should parents adopt a multimedia/audiovisual approach to teaching and learning?

 Image courtesy: National Library Board
Image courtesy: National Library Board

Lynn Chua: A multimedia approach integrates a variety of media such as text, audio, video, animation, and audio in learning. NLB offers a range of multimedia resources to make reading and learning engaging and interesting for children.

For example, to learn more about Halloween, children can play the Great Library Escape Room Game, watch a dramatised storytelling on King Midas, take part in interactive quizzes and borrow spooky eBooks through a curated booklist. 

TAP: How does NLB equip parents with the necessary resources to make learning and reading fun and impactful for children?

Lynn Chua: We have been offering a blend of physical and digital offerings to make reading and learning engaging for children. Due to the pandemic last year, we stepped up on our efforts to provide a wider variety of digital offerings to help families continue to read and learn from home.

Since 13 April, 2020, we rolled out online storytelling sessions for children in English and mother tongues. The storytelling sessions are now offered in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil.

The pre-recorded storytelling sessions range between five and 15 minutes, and feature volunteer storytellers, corporate partners and Singapore authors. Our patrons can easily access them on Facebook and YouTube.

At the same time, we launched more eResources for home-based learning, catered to different age groups. Parents can take advantage of NLB’s S.U.R.E. programme to teach their children information literacy skills and to prevent the spread of misinformation amongst children.

The acronym S.U.R.E stands for Source, Understand, Research, Evaluate – four concepts to keep in mind when assessing the reliability of information. Children at the primary school level could try their hand at several online activities, such as online quiz SUREvivors to try discerning between real and false information.

Teens in upper secondary, pre-university or Junior College who have schoolwork that requires research can catch a short presentation on conducting academic research online and download the S.U.R.E. Research Guide to complement their learning.

Parents can also look up our fun D.I.Y. printables, discussion worksheets, S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) activities, literary quizzes and reading resources to engage children, teens, families and educators in reading and learning. 

 Image courtesy: National Library Board
Image courtesy: National Library Board

At the same time, we ensured that physical touch points remain in place to keep the community connected through first-of-its-kind initiatives. The Little Book Box is one such initiative rolled out in October 2020. It brings a selection of eight English children’s books to our subscribers’ doorsteps every month through a children’s book subscription service.

The fiction and non-fiction titles provided span a range of children’s interests and cater to two age groups – from 4 to 6-years-old and 7 to 9-years-old. We saw overwhelming response for this service as all 1,000 slots from November 2020 to January 2021 were fully taken up in five days, including 200 subscriptions sponsored by The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund for children from lower-income families.

Recently in February 2021, we revamped our NLB mobile app, which allows for a smoother user experience and provides personalised reading recommendations, which will especially appeal to the older kids.

We also have over 900,000 eBooks and audiobooks, as well as more than 7,000 eNewspapers and eMagazines from over 100 countries. All of these are free and easily accessible with a few clicks. Our teens can now literally have the library in their pocket, allowing them to read anytime and anywhere!

Children and teens can look forward to more activities this upcoming June school holidays, such as the Tweenkerama workshops. Here tweens can explore and learn through a series of workshops related to S.T.E.A.M. subjects such as art and robotics.

TAP: Is hybrid learning here to stay?

 Image courtesy: iStock
Image courtesy: iStock

Lynn Chua: Learning is no longer confined to the classroom or an onsite location. We expect hybrid learning and e-learning to continue in the post-COVID era with online and technology enhanced learning playing an important role in children’s learning. 

With this in mind, we will continue to offer a blend of physical and digital offerings to make reading and learning engaging for children of all ages.

TAP: How can parents utilise NLB’s resources to help their children learn better?

Lynn Chua: We recommend that parents actively engage their children and spark their interest in reading by using our resources. For instance, they can do the activities with their children, or watch digital storytelling videos together and pique their children’s interest to learn more about other stories. 

Book Bugs: Explorers of Stories Past, a bug-themed collectible card game, is another resource that parents can tap on to invigorate the love of reading in their children through exciting play and gamification elements. In the latest edition, children can learn more about local and regional stories and folktales in English and mother tongues.

 Image courtesy: National Library Board
Image courtesy: National Library Board

They are rewarded for reading as they earn points when they borrow books or eBooks, and these are then used to redeem Book Bugs cards.

There are also quizzes, pop-up events and playoffs involved as part of this programme.

TAP: What advice would you give to parents who wish to use multimedia/audiovisual approach to help their young children learn?

Lynn Chua: Parents can pay more attention to the quality of the digital content that their children are consuming. When looking for high quality media content, the National Institute of Early Childhood Development recommends that parents ask themselves these questions:

  • Is it engaging? Do the design features keep the child focused or distracted from the learning goal?

  • Does it actively involve? Do the tasks challenge the child to explore or does the child tap and swipe mindlessly?

  • Is it meaningful? Does the content introduce new concepts within a context the child is familiar with?

  • Can it be social? Can parents engage their child by using “serve-and-return interactions” like talking about what he or she sees or does?

 Image courtesy: iStock
Image courtesy: iStock

TAP: Relying on a multimedia/audiovisual approach may lead to too much screen time. How would you advise parents to manage screen time?

Lynn Chua: Parents can focus on keeping screen time positive and helpful. Other than ensuring that their child is accessing high quality media content, parents should also play an active role in engaging their children during screen time instead of leaving the child alone with a device. 

For example, parents can have a conversation with their child on the video they are watching. Or, take the opportunity to introduce new concepts or words or use the device for reading eBooks and storytelling.

To manage screen time, parents can set rules on the time their children spend online. Parents can plan activities that do not rely on digital devices.

They should also be a role model of screen time to show children that they do not need to use their devices to have fun. 

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