So when I first got pregnant I envisioned all kinds of parenting "rules" I would follow. Then I had a baby and realized the only rule was try your best - and survive! One of the rules I thought I would follow was no TV until Gabriel was 3. I don't judge anyone who chooses to let their child watch TV but I envisioned this serene world of imagination being nurtured without interruption from the effects of TV. Yeah well below is a picture of Gabriel at month 8 when he started to refuse to "eat" (remind me to tell you of my rocky relationship with breast feeding one day).
Yup, our rule went right out the window when we discovered that 10 mins 14 secs of Baby Einstein would equal peace of mind that Gabriel was getting his nutrition and well frankly we were getting a little quiet time! Since then I've been justifying Gabriel's viewing choices by trying to balance the reality of survival with my desire to limit his TV time. Everyone's line and balance is different and I truly think there is not 1 right answer or way. For me, I prefer apps and Internet clips because I think it is easier to be mobile and to control the length of time. Though trust me Gabriel has been introduced already to the wonder of TV- sometimes mommy needs a minute! Anyhow I thought it might be nice to share some of the tech that we find helpful.
For me, I have a few go-to apps that I think are purposeful, easy, and can mold to a variety of ages. Although You Tube is not an "educational" app, I love searching for short clips that fit the child I'm with at the moment. For my son, I feel good showing him some of the Baby Einstein clips that support his language development. In particular, I like playing some of the clips in Spanish since I am trying to raise him bilingual. It helps to support the things we are doing at home, plus calms him at particularly cranky times. Often 10 mins is all he needs. I also enjoy an app called "DoodleBuddy." This is a free draw and paint app that can be used for a variety of purposes. Kids love to free doodle, use the stamps, and change the backgrounds. It can be a loose free play for them or we can practice more specific skills like letter formation, drawing shapes, or following directions. Another app I have been enjoying recently is called "MeeGenius." You can download the app for free. The site will send you the link to a free book after you sign up for an account. Later you can purchase other books if you'd like. This is a great apps that reads books aloud to your children but also tracks the words in yellow as it reads them the words, helping to develop your child's understanding of print concepts. As always, technology should always be closely monitored and all things should be done in moderation. But, as I have been learning, there are times we just need help in keeping our kids entertained! Why not find things we feel good about?! What apps/web sites do you enjoy using with your family?
Raise the FLF: You know what my son loves in particular? My camera! He loves looking through the pictures on my phone and rewatching the videos that always seem to linger there. Maybe it is because the pictures and videos are often of the people he recognizes in his world (our closest family and friends). Looking through these pictures and watching these videos hold his attention better than most other things and allow us to support his vocabulary growth with people and objects that he instantly recognizes. His smile is gigantic when he sees himself dancing in our living room holding his beloved ball with grandma and grandpa shouting "goal, goal, goal!" It also gives another use to the hundreds of pictures and videos we take- they become an instant tutor of language and a way to relive our favorite memories. You can use this with older children as well. They love looking through these special times and can even be in charge of labeling the occasion or retelling how they felt at that moment thus accessing important retelling and communication skills that will be really helpful to their academic growth. Older children can even take it further by using these pictures and videos to export into an iMovie or garage band app and really develop special memories in an imaginative way. My oldest nephew loves to do this. To him he is having silly fun but he is also developing important higher order thinking skills. Let's put all those pictures we take to work for us in a variety of ways. Then we don't have to feel bad that we never print them or put them into that fantasy scrap book we plan on making one day!