iReview: iPad — Post by Nicole Grant
I knew I needed an iPad as soon as I saw them. I am not usually one to embrace new technology so quickly, however these were exceptional circumstances. This device was like my much-loved iPhone. But bigger! Little did I realise how much a part of our every day life this new toy would become.
I’m going to give you an overview of the iPad, that will hopefully be a little different to the gazillion other articles that exist on this topic.
I initially had no intention of allowing my children anywhere near my iPad. They already had fairly open access to my iPhone, and this new device was to be mine, all mine. I think this rule lasted about 5 minutes after I loaded the first app.
I am an Occupational Therapist working with children with special needs. Some of the children I work with, particularly those on the autism spectrum, respond extremely well to visual stimuli and learn a great deal from information delivered in this format. I therefore downloaded applications that targeted developing specific skills such as identifying colours and shapes, letter formation, letter recognition, spelling, and visual processing (e.g. puzzles, mazes). My kids were perfect testers, and shortly their adoration of the iPad equalled mine.
My initial reservations about giving my children access to the iPad were based on the fact that I really couldn’t see any benefit for them. My two aren’t school-aged and I believe that everything they need to learn, they can do so through play, their daily experiences, and interactions with the people in their world. What I hadn’t realized (and obviously do now), is that the iPad does not replace any of these things, but can be a fun way to further explore and explain my children’s world.
Here’s an example:
Each night my husband reads a bedtime story to the children. One particular book they have, has pictures of animals from Canada. One night, the kids were particularly attentive, so their father grabbed the iPad and searched for North American animal images and videos to show the girls. They loved it!
Now think of all the benefits of that experience –
- Greater understanding of different animals, how they look and behave, and where they are located geographically.
- Opportunity to open discussion about nature and the environment.
- Opportunity to practice good attention and concentration.
- Bonding time between a father and his children.
I have many, many educational apps on my iPad, all organized into neat little folders categorised by skill area – e.g. handwriting, literacy, problem-solving, sensory processing, communication skills, etc. Now brace yourselves for a slightly controversial statement. Not all apps need to be educational or have a purpose or be particularly meaningful. I have apps installed that I just think are fun. Usually we end up learning something anyway, but I want my kids to be kids most of the time and do fun kid stuff. Kids need their downtime too!
10 Tips for Using an iPad with Children
So in summary, here are my Top 10 tips for using an iPad with children (typically developing or with special needs):
- Choose a time limit that you feel is appropriate for your child’s age and abilities. For my kids (aged 3 and 4), 15 minutes is about my preference.
- Buy a case and screen protector. Your children will drop your iPad and spill juice or dribble all over it. It will happen. Be prepared for it. A Griffin iPad case is very sturdy and waterproof.
- Enable Airplane Mode (under Settings) if you would rather your child not send their latest doodle to your tax accountant via email.
- Turn ON Restrictions (also under Settings). Select Deleting Apps and in-App purchases to be turned off. Set the ratings for Movies and TV Shows to G if preferred, and you may wish to disable You Tube if you don’t want your children to stumble across inappropriate material.
- Try out any apps that you have purchased before allowing your children to use them. Some apps aren’t always what they advertise to be.
- Choose apps that do not contain advertising or links to web pages. Kids that are pre-reading will get frustrated when they accidentally click on these as usually they can’t get back into their game.
- Download a ‘lite’ or free version of an app before paying for it. Some apps cost quite a bit and you don’t always know what you’re paying for. If a free version is not on offer, do a Google search for a review to see what others are saying about it.
- Delete any apps you or your kids no longer use. They just take up space. You can always download them again at a later date if you change your mind. You shouldn’t be charged again.
- To save your kids’ latest brilliant artwork or picture, or anything they have on screen worth saving for posterity, hold down home and on/off buttons briefly to save the screen to the photo app.
- Don’t forget to check for updates through the app store as many apps are being constantly revised and improved.
iPad App Recommendations
My favourite apps for kids:
What are your favourite iPad apps? Leave them in the comments below.
App Recommendations and Reviews
Appitic: – a directory of apps for education, apparently tested for a variety of different grade levels, instructional strategies and classroom settings.
iPads for Education: – an Australian-based site for educators to learn about using iPads in education.
Nicole is a privately practicing Occupational Therapist (OT) in Brisbane, Queensland. She is mother to 2 beautiful girls aged two and four. More information about Nicole can be found here: www.gatewaytherapies.com.au
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