We are a technology family. My husband started his own company when he was 19. Email marketing is his world. Software, computers, technology of any sort is a huge part of his and our lives. So it is no surprise when I say our son has been using an iPad since before he was 1 & 1/2. He is a pro on the iPad and iPhone. He can swipe, scroll, click, and play games better than some adults out there. Some people feel that children shouldn’t be around technology too much. We don’t take that position. Seeing as how our very livelihood is because of technology and the internet, we support him learning about and through it at a young age. Jack is 2, a bit over 25 months to be exact. He speaks in sentences, says please and thank you, can count to 3 and is working on learning to count to 4, he knows many of his colors, he can do puzzles on the iPad, he is great with memory and matching games, and over all he is just bright. At the store the other day in the checkout line he pointed out that the box of his new angry bird toy was blue. He said “the box is blue.” The cashier was blown away and complimented me on how well he speaks. We get that a lot. I am not trying to brag here. I am trying to set up the argument that technology is not a bad thing for young children. We don’t feel that way. For us, the proof is in the pudding. I do spend time going over the apps and games with him to help teach him about each one. I also let him play on his own. We reinforce the themes he learns. We do spend time teaching him as well. The iPad and apps just help us along the way. They are tools. They are also a good way to have some time to get something done around the house or just take a little break yourself. Because in all honesty, sometimes you just need that. It is an all around winner in our book.
I want to share a couple of our favorite apps. When it comes to Jack it has to go without saying, Angry Birds are at the top of his list. He is obsessed with Angry Birds everything. However, those are not the toddler specific apps I am thinking about. They are fun though! We play them together.
This app has been on our iPad for about a year. It is overall fantastic. It covers colors, numbers, differences, matching, memory, letters, and fine motor skills. There is a reason why it is says it is the #1 preschool app. Jack loves this app. He gets so excited when he completes each task. He always tells me “did it self!” I started saying “Yay, I am proud of you” Now he will add “Prou of you” After he exclaims he did it himself. The reward stickers are very cute. After a couple rounds of successful games they are taken to a sticker board and get to pick a reward sticker. There are all sorts of different characters, animals, shapes, and items. The puzzle can take some time to learn, but it is great because it really fine tunes those fine motor skills. Sometimes even adults have a hard time getting the puzzle exactly lined up. So when a 2 year old does it, wow! That is skill! The monkey is very cute. He cheers them on each time the are successful at a task. The colors are bright and fun. It is a winner all around. I do not have even one bad thing to say about it. It is our favorite. Jack calls it The Monkey Game.
Trucks by Duck Duck Moose is another favorite. Jack loves cars and trucks. This app offers 5 different car/truck related activities. Toddlers can get cars dirty and then wash and dry them. They can pick sharp objects to pop a tire, then send the car to the shop to repair the car. There is a dump truck game. They can even sort out trash between compost, recyclables, or trash. There are extra little treats on each screen. You can touch the monkey near the mud pit and he will throw a mudball at the screen! You can touch the shark in the image to the left and he will rock out on the guitar. The instructions are clear and concise. The colors are bright and vibrant. One thing I think is nice is in the garbage truck game the correct can opens up when you hover over it. That is a nice feature because these toddlers are just learning the differences. It would be hard to decide cold turkey which piece belongs in which can. The fact that the only the correct can opens is setting the toddler up for success in learning the differences correctly. There are multiple Duck Duck Moose apps that we love. I suggest checking all of them out.
This is a great flashcard type game. If you child loves real bubbles, this provides a nice incentive for learning. They get to pop all the interactive bubbles they want! Jack loves bubbles. We use them a lot. He thinks they are the bees knees. So when we are taking a real bubble break, he has the option to play with more bubbles on his iPad. This app has 10 categories of items. Everything from toys to upper and lowercase letters! It is an app that can stick around for a while. Jack prefers the toys, fruits, vegetables, and animals right now. As he grows letters and numbers will be available too! There are 3 game modes, learn, play, and explore. It has continuous options. It is great that toddlers can grow with this app.
I am going to stick to these 3 for now. I can always do another post down the road. We have a ton of apps on the iPad. These seem to be the three favorites of Jack. Other than ALL the Angry Birds apps as well. Even Star Wars. He has never even seen the REAL Star Wars! Ha!
We are happy with the supplemental education our iPad provides our toddler. It is so exciting to watch him learn and grasp concepts. I love seeing his excitement when he knows he got it right. We really feel technology should be embraced. Our whole world revolves around technology. If you shelter your children from it too much or entirely, you are almost setting them up for struggles down the road when they are behind their peers on their exposure to it. I am not advocating letting them do whatever they want all the time on devices, but we don’t count minutes or hours he plays with these things. We don’t have strict rules about no more iPad time. If he is naughty that might be a privilege he loses for a little bit, but that is about not acting naughty not about an egg timer on his learning. It is about balance. We do play outside. We do run around. Jack loves soccer and can already dribble a soccer ball. April has been very cold where we live. Yesterday we played soccer in our living room! He wanted to go outside so bad but it was just way too cold. We made the best of it. He goes to gymnastics and swim classes. He would be in soccer but the place I found with 2 year old soccer had low enrollment. We will sign him up for soccer and hockey when he is 3. I teach Pilates, clearly physical movement and getting outside is also important to me. I just don’t count down how much he does of that or plays on his iPad. We don’t keep track of things like that in our home. We just do what is available to us at the moment.