Scientists, through a 20-year research project, have found that the more mental stimulation a child receives by age four, the more developed the parts of their brain dedicated to language and cognition will be in in the decades ahead. Home environments filled with parent stimulation, books, and educational toys, “leave positive fingerprints” on a child’s brain well into the late teens.
Parents have a variety of tools in their toolbox to foster positive growth and development of their children. Reading books, playing with blocks, talking about shapes, colors, letters and numbers, watching educational TV, are just a few strategies that parents can do with their children.
A new tool has been introduced recently — technology. According to Common Sense Media research, young children, from 0 to 8 years old, are interacting with mobile devices and apps on a regular basis. Linda Burch, Chief Education and Strategy Officer, recently told Education Week:
A really well-crafted mobile app that allows a child to explore in an open ended way, allows parents to get involved, takes kids on and off screen, does not replace/displace time in face-to-face interaction and physical interaction (with motor skills) can work really well. It’s a bridge to all sorts of things. Apps with the right children, right content at the right age can be really, really helpful.
In 2012, Detroit Public TV and 6 community partners explored the impact of technology and digital media in advancing children’s learning, as part of a national Ready to Learn project. More than 50 iPads were distributed and incorporated into existing early childhood and family literacy programming run by our 6 partners. Parents and children, ages 2 to 8, were given ample opportunities to interact with the iPads and apps.
LaShelle, a parent who homeschools her two children, shared this about the experience:
I’ve discovered some new things about my children. Both of my children were amazed to experience how technology can be used to alter ” real things” like their pictures and voices. Saniya really enjoys hearing what she calls “real sound” (my voice or her own) being played back. This bit of information is particularly useful to me as Saniya has recently began introductions to alphabet sounds and was quickly growing bored with repeating after me… So, we have been having her record herself saying the sounds then listening to them being played back and making music on the iPad using letter sounds.
Check out a video sharing the educational opportunities parents and children can have with technology.
For more guidance and resources on educational digital media: