Here are some strategies to introduce your toddler/preschooler to Computers and some free sites to start learning both computer skills and general learning. The age group that I’m considering is ages 2 to 3. You could use the same strategy but different sites if you are introducing the child at a higher age.
This is an article for those who have understood the pro and cons of putting a child at so early an age onto the computer and have decided that they want to introduce the kid to the resources available on computers and internet.
While today’s kids are quite sharp in their observations and the touch screen does the rest for them where they just have to press their tiny fingers on the screen and a new site opens up, which will get them hooked and they won’t be addicted to Pkv Games.
What should be your strategy for getting the little one cozy with the computers? Here is a step by step guide.
Remember that children love repetition, so for the same step do not introduce new games each time, let them play with old games. They love familiar characters so try and find sites which have characters whose TV serials, DVD, books they see or read. Also important is the interest of the child: drawing, cars, trucks, princesses etc. Finally, most important is what all you want to introduce via the computer resources to your child. There is so much available on the net that you need to surf, find sites, play with them yourself, once you decide what you want to teach your child through the identified program then put it in your internet favorites based on categories like songs, puzzles, ABC and counting, words etc. Now that you have your resources in place this is what you need to do.
Start with you doing all the navigating and talking and letting the child observe.
There is a wonderful site called Uptoten which is partially free and has all topic wise (Colors, Wind, family, Strawberry ,car, tennis, birthday) components containing a simple 1 minute stories, 2 games, off-line activities and a song. It has some very cute characters called Boowa and Kwala and the accent is the cute Singaporean accent. Site: http://www.uptoten.com/kids/boowakwala-adventures-homeadventures.html
The child will love the stories and the songs and will love to help you verbally through games like making sandwich in the ‘We are going on a picnic’ component. The child’s vocabulary increases phenomenally as you go through all the components.
Next do the navigating and talking and using technical words like ‘Cancel’, Back, Next etc as you navigate the screens.
Then give the child games where only ‘Spacebar’ has to be pressed.
You could try the following site. The BBC site for children with all the favorite TV characters is http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/characters/. You can use this site to teach shapes, colors, numbers, and vocabulary. It is just full of fun stuff. Here in the Teletubbies site, fun and games you have the Sucky Slurpy game which is a spacebar based game. http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/teletubbies/funandgames/ . Also here in the ‘Clifford’ site you have the tug of war game which is a ‘spacebar’ game. I used to tap the spacebar and my 2 yr old son just kept it pressed down and won all the time. He however learnt the names of all the characters he won against! http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/clifford/fun/tugofwar.shtml
Next give a game which requires that any key on the keyboard be pressed.
Try this Fisher Price site for infant games. Try the game Laugh and Learn Peek-a-boo : http://www.fisher-price.com/fp.aspx?st=2602 e;=gamesByAge mcat;=game_infant site;=us or Tap and color on this same site.
Then give games where up, down, left, arrows are used
The Cbeebies Balamory site has a good bus driving game with which the child can first instruct you left//right/up/down and then take over and do so themselves with the keyboard. Site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/balamory/games/embedded_games/balamory_bus.shtml
Next give them games where just clicking with the mouse anywhere on the screen gives them results
In the cbeebies Teletubby site try the counting game: http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/teletubbies/funandgames/letscount/index.shtml
Then give a game where click on specific items gives results
Try the Cebeebies Teletubbies ‘find the favorite thing’ game http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/teletubbies/funandgames/favourite/ . Also try this matching game in Uptoten game site: who is hiding behind the bush http://www.uptoten.com/kids/kidsgames-mixedbag-animalhides.html . The home
Then move on to programs and games where you need to drag and drop to get results
Try this Bob the builder game of building a park. The kid learns what a park contains and amazingly how to make all the park equipment of swings and slides, names of various construction gadgets and colors. First you do it for a few days, then ask the child to guide you verbally and finally help the child do it themselves.
Also this Old Macdonald game where you have to layout the farm which is then followed by the song is good
Then move to mouse click programs which require pointing to a very fine point and clicking without shaking the mouse.
On this PBS site, once again full of TV characters, in the Teletubbies section, select the game of animal matching (icon: the tiger):
http://pbskids.org/teletubbies/teletubbyland.html. You could also try painting the Thomas and Friends. The fine lines on the trains and bus or the steering wheel of the bus require good mouse skills. http://www.thomasandfriends.com/uk/activities.asp . Also at this stage Microsoft paint is a good option for the child to select a brush type, its size and color and paint.
Finally navigating from Internet Icon, to Favorites, selecting a program
Try and keep the child’s favorite sites in the top most folder of the internet favorites and soon the child will know which one to select. They are just not afraid of trail and error.
When on screens like ‘Uptoten’, teletubbyland etc when the kids wants to go to another option show them how to use the ‘back’, the ‘next’, the menu drop downs (which have photos) etc. They learn so fast.
For my son these 10 steps were a 9 month process. Now 2 yrs 9 month old, he knows how to deal with random error screen errors by Pressing the Cancel and Stop buttons. finds the programs he wants to play with, stop and move on to another.
My son’s favorite sites are mentioned in this article. The home pages of these sites will give you TV characters which will interest girls and you could find similar games and activities there.
Follow these activities up with the TV program or read the book to re-enforce some vocabulary and also take printouts and do some off-line activities.
Welcome to the world of computers little ones !!