The voice of Amanda

Parenting with your IPad

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I get that parents have their hands full. A lot of households have both parents working or single parent situations, limiting the time that can be dedicated to a preschooler. I truly do understand there are difficulties. I also understand wanting the best for your child.

My Preschool children are learning the alphabet and how to write and sound out what they see. I try to work with the many ways children learn, having them hear the different alphabet sounds, trace them, write them, roll them out with dough, etc. I’m always looking for fun new ways to get them excited about learning their letters (if you have ideas, please share!). I went looking for a letter writing app to broaden my letter writing spectrum. Not only is it another way of having them “see, say and write,” but I love cutting down on the amount of paper we use.

I ran across this review when searching letter writing apps. The app I found is free and fairly basic- it says the letter aloud, and the child can trace the dotted outline of each capital and lower case letter. Of course there are going to be other apps that have more options, but I feel that I don’t need something to do the teaching for me.

What makes me mad about this review is the clear desire for a piece of technology to do the job that a parent or teacher is supposed to do. Yes, there is no “good job!” Or “try again” feature. I find that a parent can do that when working WITH their child. I also mentioned that this is a free app, so for parents willing to pay a meager $2.99, there is surely something that will talk to your child more than you.

This review was not isolated. Numerous other parents had similar complaints about the lack of direction. I dislike the assumption that a canned voice coming out of a tablet should be congratulating and guiding my child more than I should. Think about the many years before ipads were available. Children had coloring books and writing sheets with dotted lines. The obvious feedback had to come from the person giving them the materials. My question is this- is technology allowing parents to be lazier? Are we taking advantage of a great learning tool and diminishing our role in children’s education?

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Princesses

I am going to shed some light on my personal life. My job involves being around babies to preschool aged children on a daily basis, guiding them and their parents through early development. My clientele is easily a privileged group hailing from Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Malibu and other million dollar neighborhoods. I’ve also worked with children from very poor areas with working-class parents struggling to make ends meet. No matter what economic background a child has, there is no substitution for good parenting (or grandparenting as the case may be).

Here is where you get to laugh at me. Occasionally I have a family request I do a birthday party. I sing. I dance. I act silly. I was even a clown for a birthday (which is an entire degrading story on its own). Today I was a princess- Snow White to be exact. Cinderella was also in attendance at this grand party for three year old twins.

Some little girls could barely leave my side while others shyly hid behind their parents. The birthday girl saw me early in the affair while she was sitting in her dad’s lap. She cautiously looked at me, but seemed unfazed. All was well.

Later in the party I was told to begin activities in the room where this little girl was seated, now perched upon her grandmother’s lap instead of dad’s. The grandmother was not so kind as she told me “Sarah is scared. Sarah, do you want her to leave?” Which of course she nodded yes to with grandma’s lead. I kindly explained that I had met Sarah the other day and was simply saying hello and trying to get set up to do activities. Grandma was once again cool and dismissive. Okay, what would I have recommended she do?

In this instance, rather than reassuring the little girl and showing her the correct way to deal with a situation, grandma rudely hustled me out. Rather than teaching Sarah how to confidently conquer her fear, grandma took over and got rid of it before giving her a chance to see she was in no harm. I wish grandma could have been a positive example. Three years old is a perfect age to demonstrate proper social behavior and interactions, as well as building confidence in one’s own abilities.

I have seen a lot of children unable to cope in social settings because of family members who do not give them the chance to learn on their own. Children need to know they are safe and protected, but they also need to learn skills to function independently. It’s a fine balance. Think of it this way- if you were teaching your child to ride a bike, it is much better to support them and slowly let go. The kid might fall a few times, but eventually learns to balance. You teach them not to give up and try again. It would be insane to hold on to the bike every time your child got on, then expect them to ride alone when you’re not there.

I have a lot of opinions on how children are being raised and what sort of teenagers and adults we are setting them up to be. There will surely be more on this topic, but hopefully I won’t be in a princess costume when I write it.