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.
Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.