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Kindle: For kids who love to read #StartAStory

Kindle: For kids who love to read #StartAStory

Raising readers is just one of the better things about being a parent, especially if you/your partner is a bookworm. That very thrill of picking up a book, flipping through it and losing oneself in the joys of words, images and ideas as they seep into your being is quite unparalleled. Kindle has become almost synonymous with reading today as I am sure you’ll agree.

Kindle_Reader_Kids

Gy took to books pretty early, I’d say, maybe from the time I began reading to her when she was an infant. I doubt that she actually understood the words but she’d listen raptly to every story as if she were grasping it all. A part of me hoped that she’d be a reader and fall in love with words the way I had. I didn’t know it then but pretty soon I’d be playing the role of the delighted mom to a relentless bookworm!

When she turned 5, she began reading on her own and a part of me wondered at how effortlessly she’d slipped into this role of a reader. She began with picture books and moved on to flip board books and slowly graduated to thin books such as Dr.Seuss’ magical works followed closely by Spot’s adventures.

From there, it only grew! Soon, she was reading all the time and I found myself pleading with her to go to sleep and finish the book the next day. Secretly though, I was thrilled to know that here was a child after my own heart.

She turned 10 recently and I wondered if the time was possibly right to introduce her to the world of Kindle and e-books. It makes for easier portability for one thing and I can have many books on a single device as opposed to a bag full of paperbacks (although she still carries those too!).


The Kindle App on my Android tab coupled with the 11-inch screen makes for very comfortable reading. So I purchased Ruskin Bond’s The Hidden Pool and called her over to walk her through the features of the Kindle Device.

She was fascinated by so many aspects that she explored them all with interest! The bookmark feature especially excited her and she noted how easily she could add a place marker with the touch of a finger. The font size could be adjusted to her comfort level and she also spent a good ten minutes picking the font type to figure out which she was most happy reading.
Kindle Features

Touching the centre of the screen opens up the menu on the right-top corner and you have the option of adjusting font type, font size, screen brightness and the background screen colour that helps with better readability.

The Page Flip feature is something she found especially fun and kept switching between pages just to play around with it! (It’s also visible in the shot above)

Kindle_Page Flip

She took to the Kindle like a fish to water and the instinctive joy she felt is seen in the way she continued to read sitting up, lying down and resting on her elbows too! She’s also very disciplined though when it comes to screen time and spends about 20-30 minutes total at one stretch.

All told, I’m glad I have a reader in the house and if the Kindle means more reading and expansion of one’s horizons then I am all for it.

Do you have a reader at home too? 
 
Do your kids use a Kindle? 
 
Share your story with me.
*This is a sponsored post but the views expressed are my own.*
Cambridge Young Learners: Learn English the fun way

Cambridge Young Learners: Learn English the fun way

Kids can find English challenging given its various twists and turns but let’s face it, English is a must-have skill in the world today. It’s one of the most widely spoken languages in the world coming in third after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. It’s also the language many of us use to express ourselves when we write or speak.
 
Suffice to say that it’s a very integral part of our lives and going forward, the new generation must be aware of the language and everything about it for them to thrive.
 
* Fun Fact: Did you know that a new word is added to the English language every two hours?! *
 
 Quality English learning opens up different options for kids at varying levels of education. So how would you feel about a programme that not only teaches English but makes kids fall in love with the language right from the word ‘Go’?
 
The Cambridge English:Young Learners series is targeted at lower secondary and primary school children. It comprises a series of interesting English language tests designed to help them improve their language skills.

Cambridge English young learners_Feature image


Kids who are currently enjoying their summer break will find this programme both enriching and entertaining. Why, you ask? Think of it as a great way to introduce and strengthen the child’s language skills while proactively learning something new.
 
This programme is a part of the not-for-profit wing of the University of Cambridge and intends to help children communicate effectively in English and enjoy the learning experience in the process through fun games and activities.
 
Here are some details about the programme that will help you understand it better.
 
What does it test:
 
All the four core skills for language development, namely, reading, writing, listening and speaking are covered in these tests.
 
What’s the format?
 
The tests are either computer-based or paper-pencil tests. Each test is for an hour and 15 minutes.
 
What does it contain:
 
These activity-based tests are of three types: Starters, Movers and Flyers. As the names imply, they are designed keeping in mind the level of comfort the child has with the language.
 

Cambridge English Starters:  

Cambridge English young learners_Starters
 
Starters is for kids who have little or no knowledge of the language and who are looking to improve the same. Familiar topics and concepts are introduced to make them comfortable.
 
Cambridge English Movers:
Cambridge English young learners_Movers


Level 2 of the Young Learners programme, Movers,tests children on their spoken and reading skills, while helping them build confidence in their own abilities.
 
Cambridge English Flyers:
Cambridge English young learners_Flyers


Flyers is for the advanced group of children who have achieved sufficient mastery over the basics of the language and can now be tested on how well they do in the four core skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking.
Who can take the tests:
 

Students from all over the world can attempt the tests since they are now available on computers and tablets worldwide. Here’s a short video to give you a quick overview of the programme.

What’s great about the tests:

  • They are extremely intuitive and adaptable to the learning level of the child.
  • There is no pass or fail where these tests are concerned. Anyone who attempts the test gets a certificate.
  • What is rewarded is learning, which ideally, should be the focus of all education.
  • Day to day situations are used to bring out language learning scenarios. Kids can relate to them instantly.
  • Both American and British English are covered in the tests.
  • It is fair to students of all linguistic and national backgrounds
Helpful resources for parents:

Here are some things you can do to get your child started.
  1. To register for the Cambridge English young learners programme and find out if your region has an exam centre for the Young Learners programme, please click here.
  2.  Find multiple resources, links, videos and activities at the Young Learners portal as well as the main page.
  3.  Get your kids to attempt the learning tests on this page, especially those geared towards levels A1 and A2.
  4. You can also download the Cambridge Young Learners practice apps on your iPhone and iPad from the App Store here.
Disclaimer:
This is a sponsored post.
All images and  video courtesy Cambridge English Young Learners, a division of Cambridge English.
MyPedia Review – A complete learning solution

MyPedia Review – A complete learning solution

Pearson has been a global leader in the books space and they are slowly expanding into various other areas of academic interest. The MyPedia programme is a comprehensive one that covers everything that will cater to students, academicians, teachers and parents.

Earlier this month, the MyPedia team invited me to a presentation on the core concepts that make up their vision to make learning both fun and interactive. Mr. Ujjwal Singh, head of MyPedia, engaged with us and patiently answered every query we had on the various aspects of this programme.

MyPedia Featured Image, Shailaja V, Doting Mom

What MyPedia involves:

MyPedia is a complete learning solution. From providing textbooks that include concepts to a home-based app that allows parents to review their children’s performance, it’s got everything you’d need.

Students benefit by learning at a pace that is comfortable for them. Teachers are trained in the material as well as understanding the assessment rubric and learn to work with the students and the parents in a collaborative manner. Parents are directly in touch with the student’s rate of learning.

MyPedia, Properties, Doting Mom

MyPedia works with schools within the curriculum framework (currently CBSE) and figure out a universal learning programme that will help their students aspire to the best of their potential. Their aim is five-fold:

  1. To provide integrated learning tools within a classroom
  2. To help build stronger concepts and skills instead of rote learning
  3. To loop parents actively into the learning process
  4. To address remedial learning challenges a student might face
  5. To enable love for learning that goes beyond classrooms

How it’s different:

Whereas other learning tools  take care of one issue, MyPedia attempts to harness them all under one umbrella. So, instead of getting the textbooks from a vendor, a training programme from another, an assessment rubric from a third person, MyPedia combines it all in a single package.
MyPedia, Advantages, Doting Mom
These kids, parents and teachers seem to enjoy the MyPedia programme a good deal, as the video testifies:

What I liked about it:

  • Active parental involvement: The home app on the parent’s phone is the best way to track exactly what your kid is learning at school. Real-time feedback from the teacher gives the parent an individualised report and tailored remarks on the child’s performance.
MyPedia, App, Doting Mom, Shailaja
 
  • Helps all kinds of learners: Gy is a visual learner, as I have mentioned before on this blog. Mr.Ujjwal Singh very neatly pointed out the way classroom assessment typically works. A child who is good at writing may score very well in a written assessment. However, a child who is better at speaking or play acting may score low on the writing scale. MyPedia helps to balance out the scoring and awards children based on their individual strengths. Teachers then work with the specific concepts in the grading rubric and assess how to help each child develop their complete potential.
MyPedia, Assessment, Rubric, Doting Mom, Shailaja
 

Questions I had:

  • Screen time for kids: I’ve always been very conscious about keeping gadget time at home to an absolute minimum, especially for kids below the age of 12. The MyPedia app’s videos are all short and play for a limited time, say, about 5 minutes overall.
 
  • How many schools have adopted it? Pearson says that over 250 schools across India currently implement the MyPedia programme and are very happy with the way it is shaping the way kids learn.
  • How do they manage teacher training? Pearson has specific teacher-training programmes for every school that adopts the MyPedia module. The interesting thing is that they do follow-up sessions once in 3 or 6 months as the learning curves vary across schools. This helps them assess any loopholes in the material or the pedagogy and address them efficiently.
 

If you think you or your school would be interested in the MyPedia programme, contact them here.

DISCLAIMER: I was privileged to be among four bloggers invited to attend a closed conference on the MyPedia learning management tool developed by Pearson. The views expressed in this post are my own. 

Is Your Child Ready for Adventure Camps?

Is Your Child Ready for Adventure Camps?

Amma, I need a backpack, a tent, hiking shoes and oh, a torch! I am so thrilled about the camp!”

It was 4 years ago when Gy took her first steps into an overnight adventure camp organized by her school and I remember how her cheeks flushed with excitement as we went about picking out all the accessories for the trip. As a parent, I believe it is important that we allow children to experience everything from Nature to hands-on outdoors fun and one ideal way to do that is with adventure camps.



With this in mind, I discussed the concept of these adventure camps with the head of INME, an outdoor adventure camporganization and they were kind enough to share their views on the topic in an interview. Thank you, INME, for patiently answering all my queries.
Shailaja: Why should kids participate in Adventure camps?
INME: We believe that the great outdoors lend themselves to instilling a sense of awe, which helps open young minds to both introspection and new experiences. We believe that when children are out of their comfort zone, they learn to rely on themselves and make their own decisions.
 In these times it is very important for children to learn how to disconnect from the gadgets and modern world around them. Being in the real wilderness can in itself be a life changing experience. When poised against the elements in the playground of the great outdoors, the struggle; heightened emotional state and honest internal conversation teaches humility, respect for the environment and the realization of being a mere speck in the larger scheme of nature.

Shailaja: What would you recommend as the best age to start kids off on these camps?
INME: After a lot of research and experience of working with kids, we have seen that children who are 9 years and above are at the perfect cusp of stepping out into the world away from their family. In fact, we have a specially designed program for 9-11 year old children who are coming on a program for the first time. That program is designed to engage the kids and make them start relying on themselves.


Shailaja:What would you say is the parent’s role in an adventure camp?
INME:It’s absolutely essential that the parents encourage their child to explore. The parents have a great impact on the expectations of a child and help set the tone of the experience. Having the right attitude and expectations from a program goes a long way in making sure that the child gets the best of their experience.


Shailaja:How would you address safety and security concerns for both parents and kids?
INME:The safety of children is of paramount importance. We have a mandatory child instructor ratio of 1:5 which is one of the best in the world. All the technical equipment is UIAA certified and a fully qualified doctor is with the kids on the campus. Our inventory of 350 types of medicines range from basic headache and fever medication to nebulizer and steroids. We have an emergency vehicle stationed on our campus at all times. The idea is to be prepared for an emergency even if it is not needed in 99% of the cases.
Our programs are delivered by our world class instructors who are not just good at handling the physical safety of a child but are also equipped to handle their emotional safety.
We have earned the trust of 1800+ children and their parents through feedback for all our programs and acting on them.


Shailaja:Do we need any outdoor equipment apart from what you would provide?
INME: For our programs we provide all the technical equipment which is essential on the program. Participants just need to carry their personal clothing which is comfortable for physical activities. We have a kit list for every program which is a handy reference for packing light. The kit list is designed to keep the child equipped for any unpredictable weather elements.


Shailaja: Can the principles of experiential learning on these adventure programs be applied to our urban lifestyle as well? If yes, how?
INME: Outdoor and adventure based challenges lend themselves beautifully to provide opportunities to engage, learn by doing, stretch beyond ones limits and build on the success experiences – each a powerful component of a rich learning method.
Depending on the activity, one gets to learn to adapt to situations and the environment, collaborate and work as a team, evaluate risks, make decisions and own the consequences.



Parents, have you ever sent your child on an adventure camp? 

Would you do it now?

To know more about INME, the programmes they offer and anything on the subject of adventure camps, you can reach out to them for more information.

About INME:

INME programs are outdoor adventure and challenge based experiences for 9-17 year olds that are conducted in the wilderness. Their programs are an engaging mix of fun and learning and are designed and led by outdoor experts and behavioural science practitioners.Using the power of the experiential method participants pick up life skills, gain confidence, become independent, learn to work with others, and have opportunities to dig deeper into their potential. We offer programs ranging from ones designed for the first time camper and going up to those for the challenge seeker. 

You can learn more about INME via their website or their Facebook Page.

{All images used in this post are courtesy INME}

~~~o~~~

**EXCITING NEWS** INME has Adventure camps lined up for the Summer of 2016! Check out full details on the links posted below:



      Coorg Adventure Camp                  


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