As our world changes and new technology is introduced into our lives, more and more children are becoming tech savvy at a younger age and the reality is technology has found its place in our busy lives, and like all things, should be used in moderation. Too much technology in the early years can have adverse effects on a child’s development and may not become known until later in life. The majority of technology is a singular experience as the user interfaces with a screen, thus taking away the opportunity to interact with another human being. The downside to this is critical social skills, such as problem solving and interpersonal communication, are sacrificed.
When choosing gifts for children I encourage you to resist the latest automated toy that does everything for the child and select toys that encourage independent thinking and creativity, such as blocks, cars, trucks, dolls and other toys that require the child to manipulate the object. Crayons, paper, scissors and other art supplies and books will provide opportunities for children to express themselves creatively. Give the gift of time all year long – children need to interact with parents and caregivers through play. Take time to read a book, draw a picture or construct a fort in the living room with your child. Not only will you both make lasting life long memories, your child is learning.
Finally remember to give the gift of yourself by talking to your child as you go about your day and remember to use language that your child will understand. Talking to your child should begin as early as birth, smile often at your baby, look at your baby as he/she babbles, and make time to interact. Toddlers treasure opportunities to help – talk as you invite your toddler to sort the laundry or load the dishwasher, preschoolers will delight in helping to grocery shop as they find items on the shelf and put them in the cart and school age children can help create the grocery list by writing things down as you dictate to him/her. Remember talking is teaching.
For more information go to www.talkingisteaching.org.
-Tammy Spicer, Discovery Gateway