technology and learning

3 Tips for Using Technology to Aid Learning

Originally published on the New York Family website
new york family

How parents can use technology’s power over their kids for good.

Many children view tablets and computers as tools for having fun. They love to swipe, press, and play games, relishing in mindless entertainment. Yet tech-based tools can be used for more than just sheer entertainment. Help your child use technology to gain many new and valuable learning skills.

Build Reading, Writing, & Math Skills

‎When most of us were kids, working on a computer meant clicking a mouse and typing on a keyboard. Yet tablets and most computers today contain touch screens that allow users to engage with content and offer great opportunities for learning. To develop handwriting skills, for instance, your child can use various apps to practice forming letters and numbers while writing on the screen – such as creating the letter p while moving down, up, and around – a great kinesthetic approach that helps information stick in childrens’ long-term memories. Try the app iwritewords with your child as one option, which is designed for pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students. With this app, players select either numbers, lowercase letters, or upper case letters, and use their fingers to practice writing with proper formations on the screen. For added fun, they work with Mr. Crab to “collect” numbers as they properly form each figure. Users are later rewarded with a colorful picture at the end of each segment.‎ By engaging with this app, they are taking advantage of technology to help improve their writing and fine motor skills.

Help Your Child Become More Focused

Your child may zone out while playing a game or listening to a story, but take advantage of iPad time to help her become actively engaged in the task at hand and foster both her learning and focusing skills. For instance, if she is playing a game or listening to a story, stop the program at certain intervals and ask her content-related questions. She may, as an example, be using an iPad to listen to (and view) the story Cinderella. Instead of having her simply listen to the story – and possibly zone out – try pausing the screen after every few lines and ask her questions about the story. You might ask her direct questions, like: Why were the stepsisters so mean to her? Why couldn’t Cinderella go to the ball? or Who gave her the beautiful dress and carriage? You can also ask her less direct, more inferential questions, like: How would you feel if you weren’t invited to a ball? Why do you think Cinderella’s stepmother didn’t buy her a dress? or What kind of traits do you think the prince had? The more you can help your child engage with the story, the more she will process and the information and develop stronger focusing abilities.

Foster creativity

Some feel that creativity has been lost with the advent of technology. Yet while our kids may not be creating medieval castles out of blocks or playing “house” with pretend animals as much as we did as kids, there are many ways to use technology to help bolster creativity. With the PicsArt for Kids app, for instance, children can develop their early learning skills while coloring and drawing with various shapes and images. They start with a blank slate and engage their imaginations to create various “silly” pictures by dragging objects and using different color options. With the Create a Car app, kids can build their own cars by selecting a car style, then choose different car parts, such has fire hoses, panels, and the like, and drive their cars through different animated scenes. With the Toontastic app, players create their own cartoons with various characters, backgrounds, sounds, and play sets. The tech options are seemingly endless for engaging the imagination and stimulating creativity.

Technology will only continue to develop and become increasingly widespread as our children grow older.‎ Embrace these new and advancing tools and help your child develop stronger learning skills while having fun along the way.

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– Parent