My little guy (age 2.5) accomplished something big this week that he's very excited about.. he finally figured out how to use the mouse. He is awed by this cause and relationship between his action and what happens on the computer. I wish I could say that I took credit for this, but it was actually his 8 year old sister who taught him. I walked into the dining room and found him playing an online coloring program. He was so excited to be able to choose his colors and click.. like magic, he is coloring the picture on the screen.
Now I realize there is a lot of controversy as to what the appropriate age is to introduce our toddlers to computers. I tend to take the middle ground when it comes to such issues. My kids are exposed to technology daily, but in moderation. For more information about the pros and cons of computer use for toddlers, there is a great article at Parent's Magazine.
Ideas for Toddlers
Online Coloring programs: great for hand-eye coordination, color identification, fine-motor development, and decision making
Word Processing: letter identification and sounds- Have your child find and press on the correct key that you call out- find the A, find the B and so on. Show them the letter on the screen. Be sure to have the font at a larger setting so that your child can see the letters on the screen. Great for practicing your child's name as well. Other ideas- number identification- find the 1, 2, 3 and type the numbers on the keyboard.
Online Learning Programs
Starfall.com I've been using starfall with LM for quite some time now, but I did the clicking while he watched the animation and we talked about the letters and pictures on the screen. He just loves it!
This week, LM was able to click on starfall himself with some assistance from Mom. You can tell that he is feeling so proud to be like his big sisters on the computer. Below he is on starfall.com learning about the letter Tt and the the color red.
Computers shouldn't be the only learning tool, but a supplement to learning. I'm truly a proponent of hands-on materials for learning without all of the electronic bells and whistles. But in moderation, I think it is fine for LM to experience new technologies.
What are your thoughts on computers for toddlers? What programs have you used with your little ones?
Written by Jen