There’s little doubt that introducing tablets into secondary classrooms caused controversy amongst parents and teachers alike. What possible good could come out of giving each pupil a licence to play games when they should be working? The reality turned out to be somewhat different and now tablets are being used in some schools from Foundation Stage. So should you allow your young children to use one?
There are numerous studies on how older pupils may benefit from tablets in the classroom, but what about younger children? One study carried out on the use of tablets in a pre-school classroom (Shifflet, Toledo, Mattoon 2012) found that children worked cooperatively, rather than in isolation; they worked collaboratively on pictures, whereas this rarely happened when using real media; they could discern how virtual simulations were not realistic; it enhanced their problem solving skills; they still wanted real-world experiences.
Learning & Responsibility
There are numerous educational apps you can use with your young child, covering phonics, number, music and problem solving. The Monster at the End of this Book is very popular, where the Sesame Street clan have revamped the classic story from the 1970s. It helps teach your child to read, while making them laugh. Jumpstart Preschool Magic of Learning is another great app that has 15 games to help with memory, following instructions, number, letters and more. H/She should learn how to operate the tablet and to keep it in a protective case, such as those sold at Skate Hut.
Although a tablet should never take the place of real-world activities, it can be a nice bit of ‘sofa time’ when you prefer to relax. If you’re planning to bake or craft with your child, why not find an interactive program to take them through the steps beforehand? It’s amazing to see how they transfer their virtual knowledge to the real experience, particularly if they’ve had to solve some logistical problems. And while there’s nothing quite like turning the pages of a real book, it’s very easy to download e-books for bedtime stories.
There is concern from some quarters that tablet use is damaging to toddlers. If a child is allowed possession of a device without curtailment or supervision, than that fear may be well-founded, however in homes where adults use tablets alongside their children, for limited periods of time, research shows this is very positive. Rosie Flewitt, from the Institute of Education at the University of London, has found that young children, with and without special needs, can take part in virtual activities, even when they were unable to in the real-world. This gave them a great sense of achievement and motivation.
It does appear, that used in the right context, for limited periods and under supervision, tablets can be a great tool for helping your young child develop a variety of skills.