No matter how hard you fight it, eventually the time will come that you are ready to start sharing your computer with your children. You may look forward to it, or may dread it if only because it will mean that the computer that once was yours will suddenly become a time share. Ultimately though, computers play such a huge part in our children’s lives today that they will eventually have to be introduced to them.
Specialist software that is designed especially for our children is the best way to get them started on their journey to computer literacy. There are a wide range of programs available.
For the very youngest, who watch mum and dad on the computer and try to mash the keys themselves, a program like Babimals may be an ideal first ‘game’. With each key that is pressed, a picture of an animal is shown, and a corresponding sound. Though this doesn’t teach much it can help protect your online time by allowing babies younger than a year old the chance to have a little time themselves.
For the preschoolers there is a lot more choice. At this age they are already being targeted with games that are especially designed for them, and that include many of their favorite TV characters such as Dora or Diego, and the Backyardigans.
However whilst these are likely to be entertaining, not all character based games are necessarily the best choices so far as educational use is concerned. They do have some benefit, in that they will help to improve fine motor coordination, but may prove ultimately to be a little too entertaining and without purpose. The products from the Sesame Street Workshop have always had a good reputation for meeting early educational needs.
There are a number of choices specifically aimed at teaching early reading skills, and these include Dr Seuss’ ABCs, Reader Rabbit Learn to Read With Phonics, and I Love Phonics! Math skills are taught by software such as Millie’s Math House, and Dally Dinosaur Teaches Numbers. Multi skills are offered by other packages, including Reader Rabbit Personalized Preschool, School Zone Preschool, Dr Seuss Preschool, and Arthur’s Preschool.
Aside from PC software there are a number of other options for educational games for your children. There are apps for many of the smartphones, including iPhone and Android games, and also standalone hand held games for kids. The Leapfrog range of games all offer educational skills building, by teaching letter and number recognition, word building and maths. These games are suitable for children up to eight years of age and so have an increasingly difficult set of skills to practice.
Many of these skills may first need to be introduced by a parent, but with some careful consideration and some parental interaction, they can be a wonderful way to introduce educational skills. Not only that, they build confidence and comfort when it comes to using the computer itself, and so provide all round, useful fun. With careful selection your child’s first exposure to computers and other gadgets can be a positive experience that sets them up well for the future.