We have always been fans of play-based learning in our household. Whether it be fun and silly obstacle courses inside or outside the house teaching him routine and coordination or iSpy games during long car trips teaching him letters and item recognition, we love coming up with new ways to make learning fun. So when we got our iPad (about 3 years ago), we weren’t sure whether we would introduce it to Master L as initially we were concerned it would be detrimental to his development and prevent him from doing other more beneficial learning activities. We proceeded with caution and introduced a simple app to Master L. Of course, he loved it and since then we have been big fans of adding regular but balanced iPad play to his learning activities.
Since doing so, we have noticed the following 5 changes in his development.
1) Recognition of signs/symbols. Since playing games on the iPad Master L has learned certain symbols that you see all the time on the iPad such as meaning ‘play’, symbol meaning ‘power (on/off)’, and meaning ‘fast forward/reverse’. He has transferred this recognition to other things as well like his music player. It has been interesting to see him pick up that it’s the same symbol and he is clearly proud of himself because he understands what it means.
2) Increased problem solving skills. Master L particularly likes the puzzle type of games where you have to work out how to assemble something in order for it to work, or where you have to complete something in a particular order to get the most points. Initially we found that he jumped into solving something and it was a bit hit and miss. Now he tends to sit and think about it for a moment or two before trying something out. If that doesn’t work, he will try something different. This one has been fascinating to watch. This learning has transferred over to other areas where he needs to problem solve. He loves working things out and you can see how pleased he is with himself when he gets it.
3) Language development – This is actually a learning we find amusing. Master L sometimes uses game language in his communication. For example, rather than saying “Dad, can you stop for a minute”, he sometimes says “Dad can you just pause for a minute”. Although not technically correct, I find it interesting that he has managed to use this language from games and put them in the right context (albeit not correct English) in a person to person scenario.
4) Word and Number recognition – We have purchased a few Book apps for Master L that are fun but also highlight words/letters/numbers. His recognition has definitely improved. We often sit with him and read these book apps together and talk through the words that he sees. That way, if he is unsure of what the word is or means, we get to explain it to him and put the word in another context so that he can see how it is used. If he uses the book app by himself he is able to hear the word read out and know what it looks like due to the highlighting. We have definitely incorporated iPad book apps into Master L’s library of books. As an example, Boomer’s Birthday Surprise is one of them (just a little plug there)
5) Patience – I would have thought that this one would have gone the other way ie; becoming extremely frustrated if something hasn’t happened instantly. We have actually found the opposite. Master L has become more patient as, with some of his games, he has had to wait for things to happen or to unlock levels etc. At first he was frustrated; “come on, come on”, but he now enjoys the challenge whether it be getting enough points or resources to unlock the next level. It seems the anticipation of what excitement lies behind the locked content is encouraging rather than frustrating.
So, are iPad apps for kids for learning or just for fun? Can all the above developments be solely attributed to iPad gaming? No probably not. However we believe that adding this to his other play based learning activities has enriched the scope of what he can learn. We ensure he has a good range of apps and that his time on the iPad is balanced with all his other activities. His development has definitely been affected in a very positive (and fun) way.
Have you seen any changes since introducing iPad games to your kid/s? Please share in the comments section below.