Pick up that book, kids
The DIY bookmarks, dog ears, highlighter pens and many other creative bookmarking techniques have become history with the country shifting to digital classrooms. A recent survey showing that the pandemic has hit the reading skills of the children has got the academicians thinking. Since the report was published, Bengaluru schools have been revamping their academic structure to brush up the students’ reading skills.
As per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), the percentage of children in class 5 who could read a class 2 textbook was 46 per cent in 2018. In 2020, it took a massive dip to 34 per cent.
“The habit of reading among children was already on the decline because of the distractions presented by the spurt in digital media. The pandemic has only added to this fading culture,” Aloysius D’Mello, principal, Greenwood High International School told Bangalore Mirror.
To overcome the situation, D’Mello said that they have been organising reading camps where children are given books to read and submit a synopsis on the books. “The best submission gets a prize. This creates excitement and curiosity among the kids to read.”
“The elementary students at Canadian International School (CIS) celebrate Reading Olympics for an entire month with literacy activities, guest authors and illustrators, poetry, and reading challenges. CIS also has a weekly buddy reading programme where high school students read out to elementary students,” said
Sachdej stresses on the importance of parents encouraging reading skills.
A few academies have taken the reading skill-boosting mission to another level.
Kavita Gupta Sabharwal, Founder and Head of School, Neev Academy, says: “We organise the Neev literature festival, under which, we run a book prize.”
Dinesh Nair, Principal, Narayana e-Techno School, says, the school organised book exchange programmes and instituted badges of honour named ‘Young Shakespeare’ and ‘ Rocket reader’.
At Ekya Schools Learning Centre, books are brought to life.
Online v/s offline
While some academicians see a prospective future with digitised books and e-libraries, others believe that there can never be a future without physical books.
Nair says the chance of distraction is quite high if the mode of learning is online. “There are concerns about the increased screen time and the effect it has on their eyes.”
Allan Andersen, Director of Chaman Bhartiya School, however says e-libraries can definitely keep kids hooked to books.
“I foresee that in the future most of the reading will be done through tablets. Audiobooks are also becoming popular.”
According to the ASER report, the fall in reading capabilities is steeper among children in government schools, which have seen a severe drop of 15 per cent. There, only 33 per cent are able to read class 2 textbooks — a big gap in foundational learning.
State Primary and Secondary Education Minister BC Nagesh told Bangalore Mirror that the gap in the academics faced by younger kids during the past 1.5 years is extremely significant.
“While schools were closed, many government schoolteachers visited villages and conducted classes below the trees. We have asked the head teachers to monitor every single student as they return to school after months of online classes.
“We will ask the schools to talk to every parent and ask them to focus on their kids’ reading abilities,” the minister said.
Writing skills gone for a toss
Not just reading, children are facing writing difficulties too. After months of being used to writing class notes and exams on the keyboard, parents are saying that their kids are losing touch from writing. “Earlier, we used to have writing assignments for kids which the schools stopped with the onset of online classes.
It’s their learning age and if they lose touch with writing now, they have to struggle later,” a parent said.