If there’s one thing that has changed for children and parents of the current generation, there’s likely a definitive answer – it’s technology.
The biggest concern with the inundation of technology in our lives is that it is diminishing the reading habit in the current generation. But, like everything, technology has 2 sides to the same coin – the overload of games, social media and endless video content is not the best thing for our kids, yet- this same gadget can be turned into a fun ally for learning and reading. In fact, many experts predict that learning through technology is the future of learning.
In fact, that’s exactly what Smart Kidz Club is doing for thousands of kids around the globe. Surinder and Harjeet Singh, the young parents of 2 boys were themselves grappling to find ways to put technology to good use for their 2 boys. To solve the problem, they decided to found and shape Smart Kidz Club into the bustling online resource centre it has become today. With over 1000 resources for kids of ages between 1 – 11, it is one of the fastest growing digital publishers for children across the world.
I had an opportunity to chat up with Surinder, the co-founder of Smart Kidz Club. Here’s an excerpt from the interview on what’s unique about Smart Kidz Club and how it can help our kids.
Thanks a lot. We are happy to be here. Smart Kidz Club originated with the idea of making books available to kids on digital and mobile devices as a better alternative to video games. I have two boys and I know the importance of developing a love of reading at an early age.
Smart Kidz Club came about out of two observations.
1) That children’s interest in paper books was shrinking and being replaced by electronic devices and
2) High-quality books were extremely expensive and unaffordable for parents.
We, therefore, decided to publish original content that would be high quality, contemporary, and relevant and deliver it using mobile technology to make it accessible to all kids no matter where they are.
Smart Kidz Club was incorporated in 2013 with the mission of promoting affordable education around the world. We currently have 1000+ ebooks, quizzes, play activities, and flashcards to keep kids engaged.
When we conceptualized the idea, we included teachers, authors, parents, educators in a conversation regarding the challenges involved in getting kids engaged in educational reading and learning. The response was tremendous- we received both ideas and support from many key players in this field. We are really happy to say that we work with some awesome authors, voice artists, illustrators, advisers from around the world who all share our common vision.
Smart Kidz Club started with only 5 books, a couple of authors and we sold books individually. Later on, we started offering subscriptions. The key for us was to own the content, offer only high quality and relevant educational books, and provide value to our users. Over time we have added more than 1000 resources and have new releases every week. We now have over 20 authors from all around the world. Our subscription is globally available and we are expanding rapidly in countries like India, Kenya, Botswana, Middle East and Latin America.
We have a very rigorous selection process for our manuscripts. We only accept manuscripts that offer an educational value to the kids and are globally relevant. We have a proprietary process for e-publishing that makes us one of the fastest growing digital publishers. We release at least 2 to 3 new titles each week.
The best way for parents to use this resource is via subscription. Children have the freedom to choose what they want to read and learn based on their reading level, skill, grade, and pace. Advanced readers can go ahead and pick books that are of higher grade or reading levels. Struggling readers can pick books at the level they are comfortable with. There are no limits to the numbers of times a child can read a book.
Research has shown that audiobooks are more engaging and helpful for struggling or reluctant readers and have shown to develop listening skills, concentration, while also helping with the pronunciation. Audiobooks are particularly beneficial for children with dyslexia, blind children, children with attention deficit disorder, and children with English as a second language. Moreover, there has been evidence that students who listen to audio versions of text often achieve higher test scores. All this while parents can track the time that was spent by their child on Smart Kidz Club via reports. Parents can also add books that they would like their child to read to their bookshelf. These books will be available to the child offline without internet. This keeps young kids safe from the internet as well as unnecessary distractions. It is especially great for busy parents who don’t find time to visit the library often.
The biggest success is when schools who are presented with our platform remark that this is the best content that they have seen so far amongst all the different digital reading resources out there. Smart Kidz Club addresses all the issues that enable education and learning in young kids all the while being extremely easy to use and navigate.
My personal favorite is the category – “Countries of the World.” This category has a series of books on over 30 different countries and provides a glimpse into each country. It inspires the spirit of adventure and provides knowledge and understanding of different countries and cultures. It is like a window to the world. Our other favorite, which is also a free book is ‘The Boy Dinosaur,’ based on a true story about our younger son’s Halloween costume.
We envision Smart Kidz Club as being a tool for every parent, teacher, and child’s life to learn all that is important in the world. The reading tastes of young children have definitely changed but I believe it is up to the parents to steer them in the right direction.
We are looking to add diverse books from authors around the world that will help kids know more about the world and its people.
We focus on developing Smart Kidz Club with our customers rather than for our customers. We continuously take feedback and are quick to implement it.
The three most important things about starting any business are
1. Believe in yourself and your vision
2. Persevere and be patient and
3. Develop the flexibility to keep improving and finding new paths when one leads you to a dead end.
What I like about Kidskintha is the focus on raising parents as well. In order to raise good kids, it is absolutely necessary to equip the parents with the knowledge and tools they need to do their job well and raise good citizens of the world.
Devishobha is the founder of Kidskintha- a global parenting and education collective, and the host of the global virtual conferences hosted on the platform. You can also find her voice on the Huffington Post, Mother.ly, Entrepreneur, Lifehack, TinyBuddha, Thought Catalog and many other publications.