There is a something happening in education: a revolution of sorts. Across the country, where funds are available, classrooms are being turned into digital playgrounds. From SmartBoards to tablets, to polling by cellphone and everything in between, the new generation of learners is ditching the pen and paper for the stylus and touchscreen. Never before has so much information been available to so many people. And never before has the ability to create a truly interactive learning environment been available to so many educators.
But some things never change. In this case, it is the role of parents. As parents, we are still responsible for encouraging our children to invest in their own education. This means creating a sense of adventure through exploring your child’s interests as early as possible and creating an atmosphere where inquiry is rewarded and learning is fun.
Of course, all of this is easier said than done, particularly when you take into account the technologies that weren’t around ten years ago, but have become commonplace in the lives of our toddlers and preschoolers. Do a quick search of YouTube and you will find countless numbers of children crying because they’ve had the iPad taken from them by a parent. The challenge for us parents, however, is not to figure out how to take away the iPad with minimal crying, but how to use the iPad to enhance our children’s educational experiences. In short, our challenge is to turn our children’s obsession with the iPad into a fascination with learning.
That’s where educational apps come in. To be clear, we aren’t recommending you download the latest and greatest, hand the iPad over to your toddler, and call it day. We are saying that the iPad must be seen as another platform to engage your children and bond with your children over new ideas. You can use educational apps to further your child’s development by fostering a truly interactive learning environment from your own home, and you can also fuel your child’s communication skills by having him or her describe what is unfolding on screen.
Encourage your child to explore his/her interests and to tell you about the day’s learning. Use the iPad to foster discussion, not to stifle it. Let the iPad be your child’s gateway to adventure, and you be the guide. Happy adventures, parents!