Opening up story time to children everywhere

Stories are especially important in the early years, for development, language and literacy skills and social interactions. Vanessa Chandler, UK country manager, ILT Education spoke to NMT about Polylino.

Polylino is a digital picture book service for nurseries and primary schools to use with children aged 0-7 years old.

The solution has been created with ease in mind while being able to offer as many digital book services as possible. It hosts a wide range of picture books which can be read aloud or listened to in different languages.

The benefits of telling stories to children are vast. In the early years, they are just learning how to function in a group of other children and story time is essential for bringing children into one place and participating together.

In a well written children’s book, there are always lessons to be learned and discussions to be had. It offers children with the opportunity to use their language and critical thinking skills, and to develop self-confidence and inner control as they eagerly wait to share their thoughts.

What makes Polylino unique as well is the language capabilities within the service. Many of the books in its digital library can be listened to in multiple languages. Therefore, it supports language development in children who speak English as an Additional Language (EAL).

Settings and classrooms across the country now have children who speak many different languages and with Polylino, every child can be involved in story time together. It can also help children who do speak English, understand more about their peers.

We spoke to Vanessa about the journey so far.

Firstly, can you tell me a little bit about your background and how you came to ILT Education?

I am a qualified primary teacher and a school governor. After working as a teacher for more than ten years, I decided it was time for a career change. Working within EdTech and for ILT not only allows me to continue to share my passion for education, but also for me to spend more time with my family whilst delivering a vital education resource to children.

To make Polylino as diverse and wide ranging as possible, it has partnered with publishers and literature experts across the UK to provide hundreds of high-quality picture books. These books can all be located on a smart device making it easy for those in nursery and at home to scroll through and find a new book. It is also fully aligned with the EYFS and KS1 curriculum.

What has been the market response since the UK launch of Polylino?

Frankly, simply amazing! Although Polylino is available globally, we have only been up and running in the UK since September 2021. The option for nurseries to experience Polylino in their own setting for a free trial period has been extremely well received, with most of them deciding to use Polylino after the trial.

Flexibility has been crucial for the early years and Polylino make it a priority to support nurseries as much as possible. It’s also important to note that while Polylino is a digital service, it is not looking to replace physical books, both are great resources that meet a number of different needs to nurseries. Adding further digital capabilities further boosts the options nurseries will have.

How has your interaction with nurseries been?

Very good. It’s never easy calling a busy nursery at any time of the day, so a little patience is required. Having said this, after establishing contact most nurseries are pleased to hear about Polylino and invariably take up the offer of a free trial.

How does the solution meet the needs of nurseries of all sizes?

Polylino is delivered to nursery settings and home users as a streaming service containing a vast number of high-quality picture books, and that basically means it is available 24/7 and licensable for individual users or settings of thousands of users on desktop and mobile devices. The fact that Polylino is multi-lingual ensures that nurseries with children whose mother tongue is not English language is also very appealing. So, you can see that Polylino caters for small and large Nursery settings.

With the pressures of the pandemic, what flexibility do you offer in terms of payments and offerings?

The pressure of the pandemic has been felt all-round for sure, and we are mindful of this. Nursery settings who have staff absent in higher numbers or have children at home can still access the service. Here, Polylino comes into its own in these situations, with children being able to continue reading at home with parents/ guardians for self-help. We have a diverse range of payment options available and are always happy to speak with nurseries about how we can help further.

In your opinion, what do you love about Polylino?

I love the inclusivity, the multi-lingual capability and more importantly the fact that Polylino is available 24/7 to children, so literacy can continue at home as well as in the nursery setting. Lastly, what is very compelling is vast high quality picture books that are ever increasing on the platform.

How does it keep in line with the EYFS Framework?

I recently met with Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon MP Nadhim Zahawi and frankly he was delighted with Polylino. He was keen to hear that Sweden, Norway and Finland governments had endorsed the adoption of Polylino in nursery settings of all sizes. The Early Years Foundation stage (EYFS) framework says that ‘it is crucial for children to develop a life-long love of reading’, and Polylino underpins these values.

What’s the benefit to the multilingual offerings within the service?

We live in a diverse cultural society and nursery settings have changed significantly, with a requirement for multi-linguistic books and teaching aids. Research strongly supports that developing a strong mother tongue language is a major asset when learning a new language.

Polylino has been translated into 57 languages and is constantly increasing to meet the demand of settings.

What are your goals for this year?

As I said we are in start-up mode in the UK, so simply getting the Polylino name out there is our major goal. I am very confident that once we have established ourselves and the dust settles, Polylino will become a household name for most children, parents, and teachers alike, I hope so anyway!

Date Published: April 19, 2022