Recently, at a dinner party, a parent of an elementary school child asked my opinion of how technology has affected children’s reading and written language skills. That was quite a question to digest!
I answered by saying, as a classroom teacher, I love technology! It is an incredible resource and learning tool. Instant access to information, actually hearing humpback whale sounds, seeing an image of a platypus... makes learning come alive. However, children have to have basic reading and writing skills to make optimum use of technology. These important skills have to come first.
Here are some suggestions to help young learners use technology wisely:
- As parents, you have to be ready to unplug devices and encourage reading. It is difficult for reading to compete with television, video games, computers, DS’s, and Wii’s. Most importantly, this means setting the example by doing it yourself.
- Spend time at your local library. For example, bring your child to a "Story Hour." Ask the librarian’s help in picking out a book that’s the right reading level for your child.
- Let your child keep in touch with relatives and friends by email or text. However, encourage him or her to send drawings and written notes through the mail, as well. Ask grandparents, other relatives and friends to write notes, letters and cards to your child. Children love receiving mail!
- Have your child help write a grocery list, write appointments or events on their own calendar. Encourage your child to become a "pen pal" with a friend or relative.
Fostering basic reading and writing skills will help your child successfully deal with today’s ever-changing, ever-faster technology.