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Using the Computer for Pre-Schoolers

By: Charlotte Fereday - Updated: 28 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Pre-school Children Computers Computing

Every parent wants to give their child the best start in life, and that includes preparing them in their pre-school years for what lies ahead.

Education and health specialists generally agree that moderate pre-school computer use offers a range of developmental benefits from manual dexterity, problem solving, and non-verbal skills to improved long-term memory and information processing.

Limit your child’s computer use to a maximum of 30 minutes per session a few times a week and you might be able to give them a head start when they start school.

Introduce Them To The Basics

Depending on your pre-schooler they might be ready to learn the basics from as young as two but most experts suggest two and half to three years being a good time to start.

The best way to approach the computer is to start at the very basics. Introduce them to the words computer, mouse, keyboard and screen and let them feel their way around the machinery before you get them started with any actual computing.

Some children might be happy just playing with an unplugged keyboard, or just turning the hard drive on and off to watch the screen light up. Let your pre-schooler dictate the pace, every child is different. Hitting the keys might not seem to have much educational impact but eventually it leads to an increased understanding of cause and effect.

Computing Together

Until your child totally understands how to navigate their way around the computer they won’t get much out of using the computer on their own.

Working together you get to spend time with your child and they will get far more out of their computer time. Having said that, you’ll get the best results if you let your child explore the computer rather than dictating how they use it.

Don’t think of what you’re doing as teaching your child to use the computer for the computer’s sake (it won’t care), but rather as an entertaining and interactive tool to further explore other new ideas. Pre-schoolers have great success using the computer to learn about colours, shapes, and sounds. You can also introduce new languages and encourage them to find new interests.

Remember that the computer is interactive, so let your child interact.

Practical Tips

Make sure that you’re child is at the right height to use the computer safely. Either set the computer up at their level with an appropriate sized chair, or invest in a decent booster cushion for them to use the computer at your desk.

There is a lot of computing equipment on the market that specifically targets the preschool user, ranging from laptops for toddlers to special keyboards with big brightly coloured keys. There is mixed feeling about whether any of this equipment is necessary. One definite advantage to kitting your pre-schooler out with their own computer system is that it will save your computer from mistreatment!

Fit For The Future

Studies show that familiarity with the computer can help children when they get to school as it will already be identified as a safe, enjoyable activity in their minds. Studies show that primary school children without preschool exposure to computers seem more timid around computer equipment and take longer to get started.

The key to success is making the most of your pre-schooler’s 30 minute session on the computer. There is a whole industry springing up around edu-tainment (educational entertainment) for preschoolers, some of which takes familiar and much loved characters from books and TV and transfers them to an interactive environment.

There is nothing to say that your pre-schooler has to have a solid grounding in computers before they got to primary school. But studies suggest that an early introduction offers more positives than negatives in our children’s development.

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