A while back I spent a fair bit of time in a down town east side school here in Vancouver and one of the things I did was take the kids for computer time. Over a period of time I made a couple of observations which I’d like to share.
- Computer time is a really fun time, kids really enjoy it and do an amazing job of figuring it all out (usually before I have)
- Computer programs are very graphically designed. Kids can enjoy the games by clicking on lots of stuff but without reading the screen. If your child is just starting to read, it would be a good idea to sit with your child while they play computer games and encourage them to read the screen.
- Computer programs can be very controlling. Your child will often find the easy route through the games instead of engaging their brain. An example of this was a story that could be read, but if the child was stuck then they could click on the word and the computer would pronounce it for them. The kids I was working with didn’t realise that they were supposed to be reading the words themselves. Instead they were labouriously clicking on every word and waiting for the computer to pronounce it. Once your child is reading, keep an eye on them while they are playing computer games to make sure that they are using them in a way that has some educational benefit.
- Sometimes computer games can overstimulate a child to some extent. They begin to click away fast and change games without playing and finishing one. If this happens, you will need to step in and turn off the games for a while. Next time, you will need to direct your child into playing one or two games only.