Learning

Getting The Bookbug

I find we live in a world where it is all too easy to criticise.

Negativity shines through significantly more than its shinier opposite. Particularly on social media, but it’s gone way beyond even those borders now.

For my sins, I’m an optimist. And so I come to praise today.

Our son turned four months old this week. When he hit the three month mark, he was given a Bookbug pack by our Health Visitor.

For those who aren’t aware of Bookbug, it’s a Scottish Book Trust initiative designed to introduce children to the fun of stories, rhymes and song. By providing every child with the Bookbug bag, and through their free Bookbug sessions at libraries, children of all ages and backgrounds can take advantage of the benefits of the written, read and sung word.

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I’m a big advocate of that message. I grew up surrounded by books, a trend that continues to this day. I was one of those kids who used to get told off for reading at the table (no phones to play with then!), even if it was just reading the back of the cereal packet. As long as I was reading something, I was happy.

Which is why I’m so impressed with Bookbug. I’d heard of it, and knew what it was about. But seeing Zoe and Jacob reading the supplied books together, and singing along to the CD of rhymes provided, has been nothing short of magical.

They’ve only been along to a couple of Bookbug sessions so far at Fountainbridge Library, and in both cases, it’s been mobbed. Lines of prams near the library reception desk, all vying for a parking space so they can settle down and enjoy a sing-along.

It gives Zoe something new to go to as she explores what her new routine might be. Meanwhile Jacob meets other children and adults in a different environment, building his social awareness.

Sure he’s too young to be able to sing along. But it’s already clear that he loves music, based on that first sessions and his reaction when we have it on in the flat. He even puts up with my singing.

It’s a hugely valuable part of his development, and I have no doubts whatsover that he will benefit from it in the long run.

Programmes like the Scottish Government’s Baby Box initiative have met with criticism from some. In this era it’s hard not to think that it’s more politically motivated, than because they really have an issue with what the programme is trying to do. I have no idea whether Bookbug has met the same kind of criticism (although being from the Scottish Book Trust rather than being a Scottish Govt announced scheme, I’m presuming not), but I think praise and encouragement is required in both cases.

Each gives babies and young children access to the basic resources everyone should have at that age, no matter who they are or where they come from. It promotes a level of equality in an age where the gaps in society seem to be getting larger, not smaller. And that should not only be applauded loudly, but replicated wherever possible.

So I say all praise the Bookbug, and everything it sets out to do. I’m delighted you are in my son’s life, and the lives of children across Scotland, and hope you continue to go from strength to strength.

If you’d like to find out more about Bookbug, please visit http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/bookbug

Happy reading/singing everyone!

Green for go

Alongside a couple of personal days, I’ve been busy on my travels since my last blog.

What at one point looked to be a manic week (including jury duty) thankfully calmed itself down to training sessions in Renfrewshire and Dumfries & Galloway. And jolly fun they were too, exploring social media and its role within consultation, and having some really interesting conversations with the very welcoming staff from both local authorities.

As I sat at yet another temporary traffic light en route, it got me thinking about where training is going. What doe the future hold for our learning? We now have a range of online tools that allow us to share video, resources and get involved in real time discussions. And most of them are free, meaning access isn’t a massive issue, although connectivity may remain a barrier for some.

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I fully agree that having a trainer in front of you is something that can’t be replaced - I think for most it helps us to learn easier, and to get real answers to our follow up questions where appropriate. But it’s often a big time/money commitment to learn within a physical training environment. For some, there just isn’t the training budget to commit to a ‘real’ course. And that’s presuming there is a local course that fits your requirements (an issue for me recently).

I’ve tried some online courses, and they work well. But not well enough for me. The opportunity to learn at my own pace is great, and in a lot of cases (like Futurelearn) the cost is low or non-existent. But they haven’t clicked for me as yet. There’s an element missing.

Is there a happy medium where the real and digital world meet to offer the perfect training environment? One that is flexible to the demands of the modern world, without sacrificing quality? Or is it a case of horses for courses, where we all choose the one that is best for us based on our learning needs, and accept that there may be something missing?

It’s an area I want to explore. I’m beginning to think that there is potential in seeing if something new can be developed and tested. And not just as a trainer, but as someone who enjoys learning myself.

Temporary traffic lights have a lot to answer for…