After months of lockdown, and more on the horizon, we have a newfound appreciation for all the spaces that give children and young people the creative outlet and mental stimulation they need. This International School Library Month we look at the importance of these literary havens for children’s health, well-being and academic success.

Why children need libraries now more than ever

Recent studies show that the pandemic is having a significant impact on children, which may explain the chosen theme for this year’s International School Libraries Month, “Finding Your Way to Good Health and Well Being”, inspired by one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Since taking a more virtual turn, education has become one of the many struggles facing parents and teachers during the Covid-crisis, in part because the children they’re caring for are struggling with separation from family and friends. Because of this, many schools have already put in place new mental health initiatives that give pupils the support and materials they need to help them understand and express their emotions. One of the many simple but effective tools being used to help children cope, is books.

A report from The Reading Agency found that there are numerous non-academic side effects of reading for pleasure including better communication between parents and children, increased self-esteem, and reduced anxiety and stress. But it’s not just reading that has a positive impact, findings from the National Literacy Trust show that children and young people who don’t use the school library are nearly twice as likely to have lower mental well-being.

The two stats are doubtless connected; children who lack easy access to reading material outside of what’s academically required may not seek books out otherwise, making libraries an invaluable addition to any school. Unfortunately, with the lingering threat of Covid, local lockdowns on the rise, and the consequent economic strain on schools, children have less access than ever before.

pupil in school library

How we can help you

From working with over 60 schools, we know the countless hurdles you’re facing as lockdown restrictions tighten, the weather gets colder, and energy bills soar; making it the perfect time to re-evaluate your utility costs. Understanding utilities markets can be time-consuming and complex, stealing time and money away from making your school library the sanctuary it should be. A combination of our services from invoice validation and basic consumption reporting, to more in-depth monitoring and targeting, can not only help you save money in the future, but recover costs from when you’ve been overcharged in the past.

The ESS services page contains full details of our offerings to schools, bursars and head teachers.

Tips for making your school library covid-friendly

With children’s mental health thrown into sharper focus, we know schools are already working hard to take care of their pupils’ wellbeing. Here are a few more ways to get your school library involved in a safe and contactless way.

  • For pupils well-being, all 22,500 Primary schools in the UK will be receiving Sadsville by Martin Roberts, written to help children understand their emotions. The books will contain teaching materials, resources and a lesson plan to help teachers use the books to guide pupils in understanding their own emotions, ways to feel happier, and finding support if necessary.
  • Take book requests online, via email, or create a click-and-collect system, and distribute books during class or after school.
  • Make it interesting and allow students the option of choosing a “mystery” option where the book is chosen by the librarian based on their interests.
  • If your school is in lockdown, or pupils cannot use the library, direct teachers and parents to tools like the National Literary Trust’s online library.

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