Technology and your child

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Here is a photo of some of the technology I have collected over the years. The dictionary was very popular in my work with children with dyslexia in the early 2000s. Harvest Moon on the DS dominated my life for several months and I currently have 4 email addresses which I keep track of with the ipad. Technology was not often spoken of by Montessori who lived mostly in the early 1900s or by Erikson or Vygotsky or any of these people, for obvious reasons. It is quite a free-for-all in this area so it definitely credits a post. A few links for websites with information mentioned in this post can be found at the bottom. Much of the discussion is credited to X Media Lab events and talks I have attended. Have a good week everyone.

Technology and you child

How does your child learn? We have all heard and nodded our heads at ‘multi-sensory’ and ‘learning styles’. It makes perfect sense to acknowledge that each child, each person is an individual and will pay attention to different things and approach each of them in her individual way.

Where do your eyes turn to when you are thinking? Up, down, to the side? I was told that I am primarily an auditory learner. Lucky for me, auditory learners are great at mainstream schooling. We don’t require a great deal of anything else aside from the knowledgeable droning of the teacher.

Very few people are one kind of learner or has just one style of learning. Supporting learning in a multi-sensory way can be very straightforward. Learning a letter and its sound?- Feel a letter shape (usually sandpaper these days) while saying the sound at the same time. More tactile than kinaesthetic? Do it more jolly- phonics like; move your whole arm to form the letter in the air while saying the sound and imagining what it looks like. Learning to spell a word? – Copy it while naming the letters at the same time. It’s not particularly interesting but it is visual, auditory, tactile and kinaesthetic at the same time! A multi-sensory approach does not have to be complicated, noisy or involve chaos. In fact, it should not be. It is an approach emphasising the importance and effectiveness of using one’s own natural life-given tools of learning.- one’s senses. The idea, is to encourage one’s effort at exercising them, regardless of the stimuli. And of course, like any exercise or learning of a sport, it seems like a good idea to suggest we start with basic training, learning certain skills before throwing in the music, audience and judging.

What senses come to mind when ‘Technology’ is mentioned? If I had to name one, I would say, probably ‘visual’.- Highly visual. Perhaps to the extent where it dulls the untrained mind and senses instead of supporting its development. So if you are considering offering it to your child, do have a read below. Perhaps it may be useful in helping you sieve out some really good efforts from the plethora of technology out there. In a lecture I did in 2007, I divided Educational Technology into 3 groups, based on its function.

a) Content-Free:

which allows you to create your own content, such as a mind-mapping software, a word processor, paint!

b) Didactic/ Recre-educational

For example, Word Shark for spelling, often used to support children with literacy difficulties, or Food Force, where you have to organise food delivery for humanitarian aid programmes. These are games that inform and reinforce knowledge.

c) Assessment

These are games which test. .

In my early exploration of iphone-pad apps for children, I bought an iphone app for toddlers… It was a bit like a book, with a picture of an animal on each page and when you touched the picture, it made the sound that that animal made. So, if it was a cow, I could tap on the cow and it went ‘moo’. This is a game which serves none of the educational purposes of technology and is solely for entertainment, and probably very short-term. So if it is about giving yourself that 5-10 minutes to reply to that important email, then I am sure you know that your child could go on for quite a while with a very well-made piece of play dough or some paper and glue.

Another very popular kind of app for very young children is a dress-up one and depending on the quality of the program, some could make the content-free category which allows the player to be somewhat creative and put ideas together.

The last kind of app-game which is increasingly popular these days, is the kind where you have to keep watching the screen and tapping at the right time so the ball/man/character does not fall into the depths of unknown. What do you think of these?

Links as promised

http://www.xmedialab.com/

An international think-tank event

http://www.wfp.org/how-to-help/individuals/food-force/

A game by the World Food Organisation

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