Supporting Education: Innovation Award

Croatian public library training programme combines digital and financial skills to give children a head start in life

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Two children working on computers, learning financial literacy skills, in the library.
Children learn digital and financial skills at the same time - and have fun - in Prelog City Public Library.

Children as young as three years old are getting a head start in two vital skill sets that they will need to become successful adults - digital technology and financial literacy - in this public library in Croatia.

Prelog City Public Library serves the town of Prelog in northern Croatia. Maja Lesinger, head of  the library explains why the library chose to integrate digital and financial knowledge and skills in a training programme for preschool children (aged 3 - 6) and primary school children (aged 7 - 11). 

“Many institutions teach computer skills, but there is not a single training programme to teach preschool children and primary school children about how digital technology and finances work together. Our training programme is a fusion of digital and financial literacy, so the children learn both at the same time,” she said. 

TRAINING BASED ON FUN AND GAMES

In designing the training programme, and selecting participants, the library works closely with preschools and primary schools in Prelog and surrounding villages. 

The curriculum and training methodology were developed by the library’s education team of three people: Maja Lesinger, who is a qualified primary school teacher as well as a librarian, and two volunteers, a preschool teacher and a primary school teacher.

To capture the children’s attention, the curriculum includes useful digital skills that the children are unlikely to have encountered before. They learn on different devices - computers, touch screen tablets and smartphones - learning keyboard skills, to use features like drag and drop, and how to work with apps. The training methodology is built around having fun. To stimulate the children’s creativity and problem solving abilities the librarians engage them in developing the learning games that they later play. 

There are two levels of learning in each topic in the curriculum, and each level has training suited to the children’s ages and experience. Each child who completes three training sessions in the first level of a topic can progress to level two. 

WHAT THE CHILDREN LEARN

Kahooting It - the children create quizzes about money using the free game-based learning platform, Kahoot. To create the quiz they must research the internet for question topics and answers, produce and input text, and find images to illustrate the quiz. Then they use the quiz to test each other’s financial knowledge. 

“Doing the quiz, I learned a lot about money, especially the Kuna [Croatian currency]. Kahoot is very great because you have the answers in front of you and you have to manage the time and the team yourself. I never knew that you can connect the computer and tablet this way. The app is fun and we can learn new things while having fun.” - Franka, aged 9.

Digital picture books - the children write stories about different aspects of earning, spending and saving money. They create interactive PowerPoint presentations and publish their stories on Issuu. 

Coding - using free Google tools, the children develop basic coding skills while at the same time learning about different currencies. 

The Old Tortoise’s Treasure Tales - the children engage with an interactive PowerPoint presentation developed by the library. Old Tortoise shares knowledge about ATMs (automatic tellers), credit cards, cryptocurrencies, barcodes and other useful knowledge. 

“You can only spend what you earn - you’d better learn to save money. The ATM gives you only the money you earned, not as much as you want!” - Elena, aged 5.

YouTube - the children create and act out stories about how to use money; film and edit the videos and upload them to YouTube. They also learn about social media, online advertising and how people can make money through YouTube. 

“We had to hit the mole who stole our money. It was fun! I could do it on the tablet. My friend did it on the computer. People steal money when they don’t have it. I would never steal. That is bad, you have to work for it.” - Tina, aged 4.

In one year, the library organized 22 training sessions, ranging in length from 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the ages of the children and the training topic. Over 400 children have attended training - 180 preschool and 250 primary school children, 204 boys and 226 girls.

THE TRAINING WINS RECOGNITION

Prelog City Public Library’s initiative has inspired replication in two neighbouring libraries that will launch similar training this year (2020). 

The initiative has also impressed educators. The library was invited to give a presentation to over 200 teachers at the National Preschool Project Exhibition held in Zadar in May 2019. In Prelog, a training college invited the library to participate in a gathering of 50 preschool teachers, and to speak about the training as an example of good practice. To learn more, teachers can download an ebook about the curriculum and training methods, which the library has published on Issuu. 

“I found the training programme very useful and the topic allowed my children to open up about their values and about family spending. We really enjoyed making digital materials and storybooks with the kids. It is very encouraging that someone decided to train younger children in useful digital skills, and not just playing games and holding a joystick.” said Nataša Novak, a kindergarten teacher.

Read about more innovative public library services supporting education of children and adults. PLIP-EDUCATION