MOM TO MOM

SHE Carribean Magazine - - CONTENTS - BY EL­IZA VIC­TOR-FRAN­CIS

Ad­vice on the lat­est gad­gets for kids.

Ev­ery par­ent has faced the anx­i­ety of let­ting go, al­low­ing your child take the next step. It’s not al­ways easy but it def­i­nitely makes for less stress if we arm them with the tools they need to suc­ceed!

Sigh! My 4-year-old old isn’t a baby any­more. Oh al­right, so she hasn’t been a baby for quite some now. But her en­roll­ment into kinder­garten this year is the pin that has burst my bub­ble. I’m ner­vous. I’m wor­ried. I’m scared. I know I will cry.

I worry that she will find it hard to make new friends. I worry that teach­ers will be an­noyed by her free spirit. I’m wor­ried that I’m wor­ry­ing need­lessly. So how do I nav­i­gate this new world? How can I help her ad­just even as I feel my heart race at the thought? As if that was not enough, there are the rapid and con­stant changes in tech­nol­ogy rev­o­lu­tion­iz­ing the way our chil­dren learn and in­ter­act.

Have you seen this new gen­er­a­tion of tech savvy tod­dlers and pre-school­ers? How they sit be­fore their iPads and nav­i­gate through the menus, solv­ing prob­lems, tak­ing pho­tos and record­ing videos. Talk and chalk may still hold sway in many Caribbean schools, but it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore com­puter labs—whether fit­ted with per­sonal com­put­ers or iPads—are com­mon­place.

When my first daugh­ter was two we would sit and fit to­gether wooden jig­saw puz­zles; two years later her sis­ter is de­vel­op­ing the same cog­ni­tive, mem­ory and prob­lem solv­ing skills us­ing a fun puz­zle app on a Notepad. FACT: The tech world is theirs. FACT: They will grasp the con­cepts quicker than some adults! FACT: They are go­ing to bump into it and it would be un­fair not to in­tro­duce them to the enor­mous po­ten­tial the tech­nol­ogy of­fers. The game plan is to fil­ter what we ex­pose them to and en­sure what­ever we choose will add to their skill set.

TECH­NOL­OGY TRENDS

Touch­ing is in­tu­itive: Chil­dren love the abil­ity to touch. They know ex­actly what to do. They’re not afraid to ex­plore. There are touch pads and ex­ploratory tablets de­vel­oped just for in­fants to 3-year-olds with their own learn­ing cur­ricu­lum. There are build­ing blocks with com­puter sen­sors that are mo­tion-and prox­im­ity-aware, so de­pend­ing on which block you put where, they’ll sing, tell sto­ries or do math puz­zles. There are even some blocks that chil­dren can pro­gram us­ing an iPhone. The iPad has end­less stuff for tod­dlers, whether for learn­ing ABCs or look­ing at pic­ture books or lis­ten­ing to sto­ries that are also in­ter­ac­tive. Chil­dren as Con­tent Cre­ators: As chil­dren get a lit­tle older, they are be­com­ing the con­tent cre­ators. They’re cre­at­ing movies, pic­tures and sto­ries. Let them. Mul­ti­ple Learn­ing Modal­i­ties: We’re get­ting away from the tra­di­tional “drill and kill” ap­pli­ca­tions, where chil­dren are asked to solve a prob­lem and if they get it right, a voice con­grat­u­la­tions them. Things are get­ting more so­phis­ti­cated with learn­ing based on dif­fer­ent modal­i­ties. For in­stance, if you can’t learn 1+1 one way, there’s an al­ter­na­tive way to learn it, such as through a story or a jig­saw puz­zle.

So after two weeks of camp where she learned all about sci­ence and con­duct­ing ex­per­i­ments, I’ve told my ex­cited girl that she will en­joy her new school and make lots of new friends. That she will learn tons of new stuff about her world and I’ve down­loaded some new phon­ics and read­ing apps for her to use dur­ing the sum­mer.

Kinder­garten here we come!

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