Over the Easter weekend I listened to a special edition of Ideas on CBC called The Hurried Infant. The series was based on the book The Hurried Child by David Elkind and was an informative look into the emerging world of educational computer games and tv programs for infants, trying to find out whether these tools are helping or hindering our infants.
Yes, you’re right I said “infants” not children or toddlers. Companies are actually producing computer games designed to be educational for newborns. It turns out that Baby Einstein was just the beginning of a trend.
One thing I am very passionate about is getting children to play…. when I say play I mean messing around in a sand box, dressing up a doll or creating goodness knows what with a cardboard box. As Piaget said – “Play is the work of children” I feel that society is loosing touch with this as we get wrapped up trying to ensure that our children achieve academic targets earlier and earlier in life.
An interesting study discussed in the CBC program looked at the differences between children in an academic pre-school and children in a play based pre-school. The results showed that the children in the academic pre-school learned to read on average a year earlier than the other children although the other children did catch up. Then researchers found that the children in the play-based environment on average liked reading a lot more than the other children.
When I hear of studies like this I feel reassured about launching The NogsTM of Notch Hill into the world mid recession. The Notch Hill system is entirely play based, it is tactile, multisensory and above all encourages parent – child bonding. People who try our products love the closeness that they achieve from spending quality time playing games with their child each day. The power of eye contact can’t be understated. Yes ours is an educational product too, but we don’t believe in getting too far ahead of ourselves. Our first product The NogsTM of Notch Hill teaches the alphabet to 4,5 & 6 year olds. It is designed to re-enforce what children are doing at kindergarten and school. There will be no baby reading programs from us.
My favourite game in The NogsTM of Notch Hill is “Tell a story” it works on getting a child to use their imagination. Something that I think is badly needed in the highly visual society we live in.
All the games we use come from my mother’s lengthy experience teaching kids to read. Some might call them old fashioned or retro. Personally, the more I see beaming at us out of screens the more I feel that may be we are being led astray from the simple parenting truths we once knew.
You can listen to the CBC documentary in full here http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/features/hurried-infant/index.html