IPads are wonderful. They take up less space than net books, they double as ebook readers, and they have touch screens that render the mouse obsolete.
They are to go-to high tech accessory for children with special needs as well. I have two for classroom use. Math drill apps are more engaging than worksheets, Angry Birds makes a great reward, and typing programs are excellent for my students with fine motor disabilities. The Bean loves using the iPad in speech therapy and OT. In fact, the iPad got her past a standstill in OT. Last summer, she was refusing to trace lines, shapes, and letters. Her therapist showed her a letter tracing iPad app, which she loved. After she built up her confidence, she was able to start tracing on paper.
So what about using the iPad at home, as part of your child’s play? We definitely have found some advantages to this, and the Bean loves it. She will announce,”I want iPad!”. However, this excellent minimalistic device will not replace hands-on playtime, as wonderful as it would be to get rid of toy clutter. Here are some of the pros and cons we have found, with using the iPad for playtime.
–Apps are infinitely patient. The Bean can get the wrong answer over and over and the little monkey will still celebrate and declare it “super cool” when she finally gets it right.
–It’s a more engaging way to teach basic reading, writing, and math skills.
–There are lots of free ebooks for little kids, and the apps will read them as well.
–It does not teach higher-level thinking skills and problem-solving. It is not a substitute for experiementing with the world around them.
–It does not provide opportunities for complex pretend play.
–It does not meet sensory needs like actual hands-on play does. It also does not provide the opportunity for active play.
So, we let the Bean use the iPad, in moderation. This is not a problem, because she seeks other play opportunities anyway. We have found the iPad to be especially helpful in the car and at restaurants. Tomorrow I will share some of our favorite apps for preschoolers.