Navigate online content with kids: Expert

Parents urged to help them interpret information to boost critical reading skills

Ms Leslie Davis, a training consultant at the British Council, speaking to The Straits Times' senior education correspondent Sandra Davie during the askST@NLB session, which was pre-recorded and streamed on ST's Facebook page yesterday. During the ta
Ms Leslie Davis, a training consultant at the British Council, speaking to The Straits Times' senior education correspondent Sandra Davie during the askST@NLB session, which was pre-recorded and streamed on ST's Facebook page yesterday. During the talk, they discussed the role parents can play in helping their children to be digitally literate. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

To deal with the sea of online information, parents need to navigate digital content together with their children instead of leaving them to their own devices.

This is one way for parents to develop skills in interpreting content with their children, which will help boost their critical reading skills, said reading specialist Leslie Davis at an askST@NLB session yesterday evening.

"Even as adults, we are learning new skills to read because we now have more access to information, and we are having trouble with fact and opinion as well," said Ms Davis, a training consultant at the British Council.

Ms Davis was speaking on the topic "Relearning to read" in the video talk, which was hosted by The Straits Times senior education correspondent Sandra Davie, and streamed on ST's Facebook page.

They discussed the role parents can play in helping their children to be digitally literate.

The talks, which started in 2016, are a collaboration between ST and the National Library Board (NLB).

Why the need to relearn to read?

Ms Davie noted that reading is a skill that many Singaporean children are able to take up with little difficulty, but highlighted the difference between being literate and digitally literate.

"Reading has changed and needs to be taught differently," she said.

"Instead of receiving a carefully curated single answer from a textbook, now students go online and find numerous answers to questions and it's up to them to figure out what is right and which answer they can trust," she added.

What can parents do?

Ms Davis recommended a shift towards "inquiry-based learning", which entails asking questions as the first step towards learning information as opposed to a fact-first approach.

"Asking questions like, what does the author think or believe or value, is a really good starting point for critical reading," said Ms Davis, who also has a background in psychology.

"Students need to be able to have an opinion in order to judge sources, and parents can model that thinking about the quality of questions they are asking their kids when reading things online together," she added.

Readers who missed the streaming of the event can find the video here: str.sg/askstnlb

Past askST@NLB sessions can also be found using the link.

The next askST@NLB session will be on the topic of "How to make the most of your annual leave", with ST's travel correspondent Clara Lock speaking to the Singapore Tourism Board's chief executive officer Keith Tan on Nov 27.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2020, with the headline 'Navigate online content with kids: Expert'. Print Edition | Subscribe