My Expressions

News for children, the way they understand it!

Date : 26 July 2019

An online platform for providing news for children
  • Experts' Views
  • Deepti Beri

Eight news every day,

Nine new words every day, 

Ten minutes read every day, 

Fun and laughter every day.

When we write down our vision and state the values and principles, it becomes very easy to do what we want to do. This is what happened when we started envisioning Curious Times, the online platform providing news for children.


‘What’s new, what’s the news?’ Our daily curiosity

Never stop questioning, curiosity has its own reason for existing,

one cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality.

It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day.”

Albert Einstein

One of the most valuable quotes of Einstein, almost 100 years old, is relevant more than ever. We know children are curious about almost everything. They have endless questions and we keep answering till we also run out of answers. We either don’t know it or we may not know how to explain it clearly enough. Children can stop asking questions when they don’t get answers. Both parents and educators cannot have all the answers. Today, the world is  changing at a speed that we cannot keep up with. Children’s inquisitiveness cannot die but it can slow down.


Adults learn these new mysteries through ‘News’, why not kids?

How do we, as adults, keep up on information about something new every day? We read or watch the NEWS every day. It either builds on our existing knowledge base or adds something entirely new. If we were to offer something new to a child every day, we may be able to keep their curiousity alive for a long long time.

An encyclopedia and a general knowledge book can provide information. However, it may not be updated or current. Also, how many times, do we, as adults, can continue to search for information from encyclopedias? Yes, we do google for it, but on a general basis, our systematic consumption of current affairs happens through daily news. Then, how and why should we expect young children, who have to live in a more complex world than we did, to not have a daily dose of news?

To us, at Curious Times, this is the only way, one can hope to comprehend a little of life’s mysteries every day.


Our inspiration to curate ‘Online News Platform’

Our lives are becoming more complex with every generation. Lack of uniformity in access to information is creating a society of children and then adults, who behave, interact and conduct themselves very differently. In fact, it would be only fair to say that life goals and values of people who are seen to be informed and evolved are very different from those who may not have access to similar information. The unequal access to information and knowledge, in turn, builds an unequal society. 

How we build general awareness, social consciousness and empathy among children in their formative years can really determine the values and the principles they live with as adults. If they are not aware of the developments and the News at the national and global level in an unbiased way, they may instead read and watch sensational content, which is often not age-appropriate. They can also be attuned to aggressive videos and violent games, and they may miss out on crucial years, which could be spent building a solid foundation for living as productive and empathetic adults.

Our vision is to build awareness, social consciousness and empathy and provide a “World view to children, just the way they understand it”. We aim to do this through simple and relatable news. We derive our inspiration from introspecting into what could possibly go right or wrong if we don’t fix issues now and possibly, every day.   


The journey – from daily news requirement for kids to Curious Times

The question wasn’t whether news or not.  We were very clear that the answer was ‘Yes, children need to know what is going to matter to them.’ The question really was when, where, how and why Curious Times.

  1. Studies suggest that most children stop reading books when they reach grade 5. If so how do they build 8 new words in their vocabulary every day?
  2. How can we simplify 5 to 8 pieces of news for children and parents which they would definitely need to know?
  3. We were aware that children have heavy curricula, homework, tests. In such a hectic environment,  how do we give them their daily dose of news in 10-15 minutes?
  4. How do we entertain and engage them and make sure they love these crucial 15 minutes?

We decided to make a simple news format, which would be reading-level appropriate. The idea was that the child should not be intimidated by what he/she is provided. We try to ensure that we use simple language to write so that most children can understand and yet, can also add more to their vocabulary every day. Give them the news, which is neither too excessive nor too less.

We are proud to say that we are the first online news application, exclusively for children, as we provide age and curriculum-aligned and relevant news for each and every child possible.


We say no to ‘breaking news’ and ‘first ones to report’ formats

It gives us great pleasure to say that the news we provide is curated with care by educators and parents from different parts of India. Each article is personalised and nurtured with care, keeping in mind the need to simplify, educate and engage the curious minds of our young readers. We aim to keep out personal editorial views when we present the news to children

We endeavour to stay away from the unconfirmed ‘breaking news’ syndrome, which we strongly believe is a waste of time for children. Our objectives are not to be the fastest but the most reliable and informative. For the 15 minutes that the child gives to Curious Times, we are building a smart and informed future adult and citizen. 


Building value and not simply ticking off a  box

We aim for news reading to become a habit. News reading should keep kindling curiosity, building their questions, finding answers. How do we not become a chore and allow children to learn at their own pace? After all, thats how we, adults ideally like to do – learn at our own pace. Why should we make different rules for children?

We also make these small quiz questions for each piece of news, which allows children to test themselves, without us keeping a record of their scores. We want them to digest the news well but not make it about scores. 

We have a ‘SEARCH’ feature. Yes, the most important part of what we do is that the child should be able to search the news that they read 2 years back. 

We continually provide backlinks in news articles, so the children can go back to previous news and connect them to what they are currently reading. We keep adding new members on our website every day. The new members will have the ability to access everything on our platform, be it an old news article from two months ago, or something published in the last one hour.

And just in case they are being tested for their knowledge or doing a journal writing in their own words, Curious Times’ articles are easy to remember and also accessible at all times.  


From news readers to thinkers to writers

“The child who reads is the adult who thinks.” Every child has a voice. But more often than not, they are hesitant to speak out. That’s where Curious Times comes in – it allows them an open and to think as well as share their voice. In fact, we welcome and encourage children to write. There is a new generation in making out there. Their needs, requirements and voice are very different and we owe them a world of their choice and making.


The first online news web application, just for children

We chose to be an online news platform, just because India is such a large country and there is so much to share that staying offline would not allow us to reach the majority of children in tier 2, 3 cities, at the speed we hope to. This journey would not be inclusive if we did not use the wonderful convenience of the internet to spread the news.

As we have embarked this journey, we invite parents, educators and most importantly children to lead the way and Curious Times, as their platform of choice for news, information, fun led learning, writing and sharing. 

 

Deepti Beri

Graduate from SRCC, a CA by profession, she has 20 years of a corporate experience. She believes that trees talk to other trees, mountains and planets talk to their fellow mountains and planets and gets disappointed on how little humans talk to each other.

She is straight-forward and matter of fact, which allows her to extract facts out of noise, making her the right curator at Curious Times!