If you believe the media reports that chastise everything electronic with our youths’ downfall, you’d think that technology is the world’s worst teaching tool. It seems like every other news report, blog post and Facebook-shared article features a story about just how ‘bad’ technology is for children.
Yes, there are negative aspects of too much screen time. The Australian Government’s Department of Health recommends that toddlers under 2-years shouldn’t have any screen time at all, and young children from 2 to 5-years should have no more than one hour total of electronics time per day. The same guidelines also say that children ages 5 to 12 should be limited to no more than two hours of screen time per day. Too much tech time may lead to sedentary behavior. This in turn could raise the risk for health problems and obesity.
Even though an overload of electronics isn’t exactly what your child needs, technology can help kids to get hands-on and learn. Digital communication is here to stay. With that in mind, using technology to teach is a 21st century concept that we can’t ignore.
First, let’s start with the idea that all technology is passive. True or false? Not exactly either. Sure, it can be true. There are plenty of passive electronic activities. Staring blankly at a TV screen isn’t exactly hands-on or active. But, when you add in a communication aspect and put kids at the center of the action, the learning gets hands-on and what could have been passive turns active.
The interactive Internet. Your child wants to know more about a historical period, can’t stop talking about dinosaurs or is buggy about all things that buzz. Researching online puts the information right in your child’s hands. Instead of listening to a lecture, technology allows kids to learn by doing. In this case, doing equals researching.
Video chat. The teacher is miles away (more than just a few miles that is) or your little learner isn’t feeling well and can’t go to school. Technology let’s your child interact in a completely face-to-face way with an actual educator. Whether she’s discussing a math problem, talking about science or is debating a topic of interest, your child is in the center of the educational experience – even though it’s virtual.
Amazing apps. Picking up your smartphone and playing on every app you have is something that your child could do all day. You’ve set limits, but are wondering what apps have that other learning tools don’t. Like the Internet, your child is doing not just listening as she uses an app. With countless educational apps available, your child is sure to find a few that let her get hands-on and learn about her favorite subject. From playing games to solving equations, educational apps let your child flex her critical thinking muscles, use her imagination and make discoveries!
Creation station. Okay, so there’s no substitute for a good old-school session of finger painting or drawing with markers. But, the digital world has opened up a totally new realm when it comes to artistic creation. Your child can paint a masterpiece with her hands, design her own graphics and manipulate any image she wants with a touch of a screen. More than that, she can share her creations (and discuss them) with friends and family online.
When we hear the word “hands-on” we often think of physical activities such as writing, drawing or moving math manipulatives. But, in today’s world of technology electronics provide our children with many more options. Even though your child can’t put her hands through the screen, she can still get hands-on and learn with technology. The Internet, video chats, educational apps and other electronic tools can help your child to make her own discoveries, build communication skills and dive deep into any subject that she wants (or needs) to learn more about!
How do you use technology to get your kids hands-on? We’d love to hear from you. Share your comments in the ‘Leave a reply’ section below.