Boost your Kiddies’ Early Literacy Skills through Technology

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Reading is a gateway to future success in school and in life. Strong literacy skills are closely linked to the probability of having a good job, decent earnings, self-improvement, and access to training opportunities. Individuals with weak literacy skills are more likely to be unemployed or, if employed, to be in jobs that pay little or that offer poor hours or working conditions.

It is crucial to start early if we are to develop the skills our children need to be successful. The National Institute for Literacy identified the five most important skills to learn in the early years as: Alphabet knowledge, Phonological awareness, Rapid automatized naming, Writing letters and phonological memory. Here are ways you can use technology to help improve these precursor literacy skills:

Image1) Alphabet Knowledge. The ability to know about the names and sounds associated with printed letters. Use the keyboard to lead your child into recognizing letters of the alphabet. To make it extra exciting for your child, make the teaching session seem like a game. Propose a race in typing the ABC (in order). Let him beat you by a split second to motivate your child!

2) Phonological Awareness. The ability to detect and manipulate the auditory aspects of a spoken word. Sound out the letters as your child uses the keyboard. Start by letting your child type out her name and the names of your family members. Let her spell simple words as you sound out the letters, like M-A-T or D-O-G.

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3) Phonological Memory. The ability to remember content of spoken language for a short period of time. Download an application with nursery rhymes and children’s songs. Help your child memorize these rhymes. As your child becomes more familiar with sounds and rhymes, open up a word processing program and write a simple word, such as NET. Let your child type as many rhyming words as possible (GET, LET, PET). Make finer distinctions and build new words by inserting or changing sounds. Focus on left to right eye movement as you rhyme, since both of these skills will be a big help with reading readiness.

images (1)4) Writing letters. Download a drawing or painting app. Drawing is a precursor to writing. Ask him to draw what he did that day. Let him dictate the story to you. Let him sign his name on his art work. As he becomes more familiar with the alphabet letters, download apps that teach your child letter tracing.

5. Rapid Automatized Naming. The ability to quickly name aloud colors, objects, pictures, and letters presented in random. Download applications that present symbols and illustrations to your child. Observe y how quickly your child is able to identify these representations. Speed may be a good indicator of reading competence.

Use what technology today offers to your child’s advantage. With the latest gadgets and kiddie apps, helping your child learn the essential skills for school has never been this fun, cool, and easy! Get valuable information, tips, and strategies on raising children in the digital age. Click here for FREE UPDATES

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Are You A Good “Technology Role Model” To Your Child?

Father and son using tablet pc

As mentioned previously about limiting your children’s screen time effectively, you have to be good examples when using technology. “Kids rely on parents to both nurture their digital skills and set the boundaries for healthy and appropriate behavior”, says Dr. David Walsh, founder of National Institute on Media and the Family, and author of parenting books in his article ‘How Parents Can Instill Good Technology Habits in Children’. It is your responsibility to make sure that your child truly understands the importance of utilizing today’s available gadgets healthily.

Here are tips on how to be a good technology role model to your child:

1. Don’t say anything rude via social media

Bullies

For the past ten years, cyber bullying has been a serious issue on the web among tweens and teenagers through the power of anonymity. This privilege of “keeping your identity” has been abused to push many to their breaking point. Now to ensure a safer environment for your little ones, use social media and technology with carefulness and utter respect when interacting with others. Whatever you do, never, ever be rude. It’s okay to express your opinion as long as you keep your cool and stay objective with your points. In this way, you’d succeed in teaching your children about online etiquette.

2. Don’t spend much time playing games

Showing discipline in playing online/offline games is another effective way to be a good tech role model. Practicing it early and consciously would save you from the fear of overstimulating or influencing your children to prioritize technology than homework.

When with your kiddies, show you finish first important tasks (i.e. doing house chores, helping the child with homework, eating dinner together) before playing games. Refrain also from taking a peak on your phone, as such may lead your child to copy such habit and have a shorter attention span. This would also help your children learn how to manage their time well at home.

3. Enjoy food without answering the phone or checking e-mails

?????????????????????????????????????????????????I understand how difficult it is, but with all your might, avoid using any form of technology over breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Having a meal together is still the most effective way to establish connection in the family. Other than strengthening bonds, it also instills values to children and clarifies how rude it is to be busy with gadgets instead of enjoying conversations. Ask how your child did in school today. Know what he learned over dinner instead of going on social media sites finding out what the latest gossip is!

4. Don’t access sites that promote violence, pornography, and anything inappropriate

With your children around, access only child-friendly websites and games. Sites with inappropriate content may spark curiosity in children and lead them to access these pages later on. Consider the Internet as a room and the sites with appropriate content as Pandora’s box. Keep it locked up and thrown away before your child takes a peek. Always remember that technology’s development puts your children’s safety more and more at risk.

5. Play fair

Mother and daughter playing video gameTo model good tech behavior is to play fair. There’s nothing wrong with being competitive online, but make sure you keep the game fair when playing with your child. Don’t cheat. Never make your child look away only so you can beat them in that level. Be mature and know it isn’t cute to switch the device off and declare the game’s over when your child is scoring more. More importantly, never use foul language and make your children associate them with ‘losing’. Being fair and keeping calm while playing a game would certainly help children develop commendable tech behavior.

Children learn by example. If you want them to cut down on a bad habit, do your best to model good tech behaviors as well. Prevention is always better than cure so don’t wait until they become teenagers to correct bad tech behaviors.

Get valuable information, tips, and strategies on raising children in the digital age. Click here for FREE UPDATES.

Tips on How to Effectively Manage Your Children’s Screen Time

Mother and son using tablet pc

Although the mission of raising children into able and responsible adults hasn’t changed over the generations, the context certainly has. This is the first generation of parents to be challenged with raising children in the digital age. The screen has become a child’s go-to place for cool content. It is where their friends are, where home work gets done, and so on. Parents are faced with the challenge on how best to prepare their children to thrive in a world that is far different from theirs.  But exactly how much is too much screen time? If your preschool age child is consuming more than four hours of digital media per day, changes have to be made. The younger the child, the lower that number should be.  Here are a few tips on how to effectively limit screen time of children to make room for real-world experiences.

        1. Avoid extreme limits.

1Too much of nothing is just as bad as too much of something. Avoid extreme limits when it comes to screen time. Setting limits that are difficult to enforce, such as two weeks of no TV or computer, may only tempt the parents to give in after a few days. Never threaten to take away media unless you’re actually ready to do so.  Similarly, allowing a child to use the tablet or computer for at least 30 minutes is more advisable than giving him 5 minutes of screen time.  Such short time may only lead your child to want it even more. Reasonable and moderate limits are key.

2. Do it in stages and plan ahead.

If media consumption and screen time are already on an all-time high in your home, discuss changes that are going to take place in advance.  Listen and sympathize with your children as they moan, but stick to the plan nonetheless. Do not make sudden drastic changes.  You can start by cutting down an hour a week.  Avoid using the television as background noise and keep televisions and computers in high traffic areas of the house and certainly not in their bedrooms.

 3.  Create a screen time budget.

When parents create rules and limits about TV and computers, children usually listen.  Some families have had success using screen time budgets.  If kids know exactly how much time they are allowed to use media each day, they will make thoughtful choices about how to use that time.  Younger children are also less likely to throw a fit when rules and budget limits are set clearly from the onset.

4. Use screen time as a reward.

Mother and daughter sitting on washing machine using tablet

Children can earn screen time by engaging in productive, creative, or charitable real-world activities.  For example, parents can let their kids earn half an hour of screen time for every hour spent entertaining a younger sibling or helping with some house chores. Screen time can be a prize for creating an original storybook or an incentive for completing ones homework without any prodding.  This type of reward system can reinforce positive behaviour while giving your children engaging and fulfilling real-world experiences to balance their online ones.

5. Don’t use mobile gadgets during meal time.

Fifty years ago, no parent would tolerate a child answering the phone five times during a meal. Texting or playing while eating should still be considered inappropriate table conduct.  Family meals give children an opportunity to have conversations with adults, as well as to pick up on how adults are using words with each other.  It provides opportunity to bond, model good behavior, and enhance your young one’s vocabulary.   Media free time during meal time means no hand-held games for kids and mobile phones for grown-ups.  This sends a clear message that human connections are valued more than electronic media.

Parents and children (4-5) enjoying garden party

6. Set a good example

Children learn more by example than words.  Make sure you don’t spend too much time watching television or surfing the net.  If they see you doing it, they are more likely to copy and not stick to the agreement.  If you don’t want your child to stay up playing Candy Crush, then you should also keep away from social media while in bed. Setting a good example on when to use the device would certainly help children realize that some parts of the day are not meant for play.

Father and son playing superhero

Regulating your child’s screen time may cause some conflicts, but stick to your guns.  Multi-screen living is here to stay and can be great sources of valuable information and entertainment. Exposure to technology should no longer be an all-or-nothing proposition.   As with all things, moderation is key.

Get valuable information, tips, and strategies on raising children in the digital age. Click here for FREE UPDATES.

Tips for Choosing Appropriate Applications and Media for Children

coverWith the release of touch-based devices like tablets and smart phones, children are able to explore the world of technology at an even younger age. Gone are the days when parents had to wait for their children to be ready to deal with the complexities of manipulating a computer keyboard and mouse. Many parents now turn to apps and digital media to entertain, educate, or simply distract their children. But with so many options, recommendations, and user ratings available, choosing the right apps and media for their kids becomes such a daunting task. Here are a few guidelines parents can use to make informed decisions on which apps to download – and which to avoid:

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Building a Closer Relationship with your Child Using Technology

post coverTime spent with your children is time very well spent. It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily grind that children sometimes take the back burner. But children grow up quickly and the opportunity to build strong relationships once missed may never be recovered. Tossing the ball around in the backyard or strolling in the park are good ways to start conversations but nowadays, parents are also encouraged to enter into the world where their children are increasingly spending more and more time – in front of the screen. Here are six ways you can build memories that will last your child through his lifetime using technology: Continue reading

Six Myths About Technology’s Impact on Children

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Parents and educators tend to have a lot of questions and differing opinions when it comes to exposing children to computers and gadgets. They find it hard to determine what is best, especially since these products were not around when they were growing up. Media has covered and presented several advantages and disadvantages of children being exposed to different technologies, but there is little evidence to go on. In its absence, a number of widespread myths about children and technology have emerged:

1. More active screen time will lessen physical activity.image 1

Cutting back kids’ time watching TV and playing video games may not encourage them to spend more of the day running around outside. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on just over 1,200 U.S. children, aged six to 11 showed no clear connection between physical activity and active screen time. Tala Fakhouri, the study lead author for CDC said, “I don’t think it’s as simple as, if a child is not watching television, then by default that child will be physically active.” Obesity was once tied both to not getting enough exercise and to spending too much time in front of TV and computer screens, but researchers said the new study backs up earlier findings showing too much screen time and not enough exercise may be separate issues that parents and schools need to address independently.

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