So, you just bought an iPad and want to begin to introduce your children to technology. How do you begin? You want something educational, but what are the best apps for education? As with the development of all skills, most children follow through a developmental progression in using technology.
It is best to start slowly with a few apps to give a child a sense of competency and achievement and then increase demands. This gives them a firm ground of knowing what to expect and do in play. Too many apps split attention and may decrease overall comprehension.
Children are naturally curious, and the adage of success breeds success is definitely true for children as well as adults. Kids that know what to expect can then freely explore and experiment. So, what is that progression and how do you know your child is ready? Let Bluebee Pals help guide you along the way with these tips:
A child must be able to visually focus and attend to a task. Attention for a child is typically 1x – 2x’s their age. A two-year-old may attend 2-4 minutes per task, a three-year-old is approximately 3-6 minutes, and so on. Some attend longer and some shorter – go with your child’s cues – both verbal and nonverbal. You will be amazed at what kids can do in 2-4 minutes.
Some adaptations to help with attention are:
- Know the app before you play it with your child. A little research before you buy it will pay off in the long run. Reading the reviews on Bluebee Pals can be a start. In addition, knowing the sequence of play can better prepare you for knowing what demands will be placed on your child. Are there natural breaks if you need to pause/stop, or In-App Purchases (IAPs) that must be made before play? etc. After all, you are your child’s best advocate and first teacher. Participate and you’ll have fun too. It’s this Joint Attention that facilitates communication and social learning.
- Starting with preferred play patterns such as music or listening to a very short book, try something known. Bluebee loves to sing and read books. Many books come in a digital version, and it is great to capitalize initially on known books. Using Bluebee helps all to relax and enjoy what they are doing. And in a flash – if you need to get up and move, Bluebee is always ready for a dance!
- Keep distractions at a minimum do not have the TV on in the background or talk to others while you are playing. Pop up tents or blanket tents are an ideal place to explore new things.
- Read or play together while positioned on your belly. This position helps decrease distractions and places a child physically to visually focus in a downward plane. It also develops core musculature in the process!
Respect the developmental level of your child. We all want our kids to have the best and to promote their progress, but by playing something that is out of reach in terms of that child’s ability to comprehend the content may result in tears and frustration. Ask is my child even interested? Many times, a child may throw or hit a tablet because the demands are too difficult. It’s better to back-off then trying to push through it. Try starting with basic apps that represent familiar play schemes such as musical apps or simple drawing apps.
Many beginner apps have irresistible invitations for play and are loads of fun. Some of your first go to apps may include:
Oceanhouse Media – for storybooks and learning vocabulary
Jo Booth – Occupational Therapy and Educational App Reviews
Jo Booth is a working Occupational Therapist who enjoys using Bluebee in her Classrooms. Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 35 years, and currently practices at EasterSeals of SEPA, Montgomery County Division mainly focusing in Early Intervention.