Tech and Child Development (Aug 2018)

Tech and Child Development (Aug 2018)

Technology should always be used as a tool especially when it comes to child development and learning. It isn't such a great idea to use it as a replacement for anything that you can provide to help foster the growth of your child.

            “Upward styles for cool boys and girls – newborn to 8 years old.”  If you’ve been shopping with us since 2004, you probably recognize the branding for dandelion KIDS when the store first opened.  I’m happy to say we have continued to uphold and strive to select clothing and décor to maintain the diversity of “upward styles” of various of our shoppers.  However, if you’ve been shopping with us since day one, you would have also noticed that we carry numerous nostalgic toys, books, and crafts that focus on the development of children from newborn to eight years old.  The many toys that we select for our stores are carefully curated to help with the development of cognition, sensory-motor skills, social skills and imagination.

              Our wooden and classic toys are a vital component of our stores.  Our team believes that young children benefit from the absence of excessive battery operation, quick movement and light flickering that often over-stimulate and interfere with growth.  Our customers both young and old come in all the time and pick up one of our classic toys and say “Oh, I remember this.”  We recall the memories and skills that these toys have taught us and reminisce about our simple childhood.  We recognize the simplicity yet huge developmental value of these toys.

For instance, the simple building block is not just a beautifully crafted set of stacking objects painted with bright colours to attract a child’s attention.  We can obviously see the value in them when we try to build and stack them, but did you know the number of skills and areas of development that building blocks offer?

“Block play requires fine and gross motor skills. Blocks enhance children’s problem-solving abilities, mathematics skills, and language and literacy abilities. And constructing “creations” builds selfesteem and feelings of success. —Linda Taylor”

 https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/yc/mar2015/ten-things-children-learn-block-play

Another one is the simple magnetic writing tablet or a colouring set.  These aren’t just things to keep children busy at a restaurant or during long trips in the car.  They teach a very imperative skill that is quickly overlooked as more and more technology is prevalent at school and in our own homes.  The ability to properly hold a pen or pencil has become more and more of a difficulty for many thus affecting fine motor skills and muscle development. 

“To be able to grip a pencil and move it, you need strong control of the fine muscles in your fingers. Children need lots of opportunity to develop those skills.  Without activities such as manipulating playdough, holding scissors and scribbling with pencils and crayons, muscles in the shoulder, elbow and wrist needed for writing do not develop.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2018/02/25/children-struggle-hold-pens-excessive-use-ipads-claim-experts/

              There’s no denying that we need to maintain and implement all these basic toys and “learning tools,” I like to call them, and undoubtedly our shoppers will continue to see these toys and crafts in our stores.  However, as touchy as the subject is, we also cannot ignore that our children will need to be able to manage, use and process the technology around us as they grow.

              Before we go on though, let’s make one thing clear.  My word isn’t the final word and as you continue reading this blog post, you will ultimately see that you have the answers to many of the questions that our customers have asked me in the last couple of years since being a part of dandelion KIDS.  What I can offer is my experience, my personal beliefs and what I’ve seen from those that I’ve encountered as an educator and as a mom on my end.  There is never one way of raising a child and only you as a parent know your own child best.  Hopefully, this blog will just provide you with a bit of insight, options and a few things to think about.

So, the first thing, I’ve learned, to really keep in mind is that when introducing technology to young children, we have control of how it is used.  It should be used as a tool and not a replacement for anything.  Technology isn’t bad.  When used well, it helps children grow and be prepared for their futures.  We cannot control the growth of technology around us, but we can structure and refrain from excessively exposing young children to it.  So, think about how it’s used.  Are you using it as a baby-sitter or are you using to grow a skill?  I get it – when your child is screaming in a restaurant, it isn’t always easy to pull a distraction other than your cellphone out of your bag but try and see what happens.  Try to keep your child engaged and occupied with a game of I-Spy instead of a video that you find on your phone where he will sit and stare.  Don’t get me wrong, there is educational value in many videos put out there for children, but depending on the age, think about the value there is in using it as a method to calm a child over using it to teach him, and think about what happens when you need to take that phone away when the server brings your food and it’s time to eat.

  Isn’t it easier to control the temperature of a pot of boiling water before it starts to boil rapidly?  In general, I would think so.  That seems to apply to many of the parents that I’ve seen shopping with us and with my very own preschooler now too.  When parents come into our stores calmly prepared with their kids for what to expect and where they will be headed after they leave, these little ones and their parents tend to leave without a meltdown.  Not every child will behave ideally for their parent or guardian because each one has a different temperament and personality.  However, teaching children from an early age that they can’t get what they want by having a meltdown, and that includes cellphones and tablets, is somewhat of an imperative task.  To this day, my child will see my cellphone or other people’s cell phones in passing and then just leave them be.  She is well-aware that there is a world of photos and communication as well as games and videos to watch on that little device that I sometimes leave on the table, but unless offered to her, she leaves it alone.  She’s now at the age where she does get a little bit of structured screen time.  However, I am by her side explaining what she is doing and only downloading games and tools that develop skills that I have been teaching her a little bit at a time and to give her a different medium in which to practise those skills.  When our screen time is done, she voluntarily hands the tablet back to me and goes carries on playing make-believe with her toys, cooking in her play-kitchen, playing dress-up, having a tea-party and whatever else her imagination fancies at the time.  Yay!  Success so far – but children like everyone else will change so even I am constantly adapting and changing my approach and reasoning with her when it comes to using the iPad.    

There is a world of technology out there that children can use to develop and grow when introduced at the “right” age which only you, the parent, can determine because you know your child best.  However, it’s imperative that we use structure and think about how we would like to use it.  I still firmly feel that technology should not be introduced at too young of an age and it should never be used as a replacement for social interaction or any play time that would develop a child’s cognitive, sensory-motor, imaginative and creative abilities.  When I was a teacher learning about the implementation of technology in the classroom, the idea that “technology is a tool; never a replacement for anything” was drilled into my mind over and over again and to this day I believe it’s the way to go.  Use it as a tool and help build your kids self- discipline and effective use of it. 

So, what’s next?  As time progresses, we at dandelion KIDS will continue to maintain the nostalgic and classic toys that we have been known for as they are critical components of child development in all areas.  However, as we move forward we want you to see our efforts in keeping up with the times as well.  All our dandelion KIDS team understands the value of child development and the classics.  Thus, we feel we are in a good position to also help build a bridge for those that need to bring technology into the lives of their growing children.  As time goes, we hope that we will be able to provide more insight and even possibly ideas and items that will help provide the support you need to help your children grow with technology as a tool. 

 Happy back-to-school to you all!

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