In our office, we use a lot of technology. Between the computer, television, Nintendo Wii, xBox Kinect, and iPad, there’s never a lack of motivation, excitement and curiosity from our clients. Along with the interest and awe over the latest and greatest, there is typically a question, concern or comment from a parent, grandparent or caregiver when they see their child using the technology:
“Does all the technology take away the need to talk?”
“Why exactly do you need to use this?”
“What a great tool! I’m going to get one right away!”
“We have one of those already…how else can we be using it at home?”
The last question is always my favorite, because it encourages creativity and thinking outside of the box. Of course technology can be great as a source of entertainment, but these devices and games have the capability to be so much more than a “babysitter.” With the right mindset and some suggestions, games and applications can be an extremely useful tool for facilitating relationship development, interactions and language development with your child. Here are some suggestions of how to target different language and social skills with a variety of games and applications:
- Games where you create characters, or direct characters to perform different actions:
-Develop vocabulary by labeling body parts, clothing, actions, etc.
-Develop multiple-word phrases by having your child direct you to make the character do different actions. Model phrases that they can use to tell you what to do. For example, you could say, “What should we make Elmo do? Elmo dance, or Elmo sing?”
-Encourage imitation and playful interactions by imitating the actions of the character with yourself and your child
- Art applications
- Develop vocabulary by creating pictures together and taking turns labeling what you are adding to each picture. Label colors, sizes, objects, etc. as you add to the picture.
- Develop story-telling by making up stories about the pictures that you created
- Support written language and vocabulary development by creating cards for relatives and friends, discussing what to write, what words to include, etc.
- 1-player games
- Encourage turn-taking skills by taking turns on different levels.
- Encourage working together and problem solving by seeing how many levels you can get through when you work together and discuss your strategies.
- 2-player games
- Encourage positive social phrases and interactions by modeling phrases that can be used for encouragement as well as expressing disappointment. For example, if you score a point, you might say, “Good try! Better luck next time.” If you child scores a point, you might say, “Nice job! That was a great shot.”
- Build vocabulary by uploading photos and videos of family events and talking about what you see in the photos or what you experienced
- Extend and expand by planning a future trip
- Encourage singing and story-telling by downloading favorite and familiar songs that you can sing together
- Encourage early literacy skills and print familiarity by turning down the volume and encouraging your child to read out loud, or take turns reading each “page”
These are just a few ideas and ways to start thinking about how to use games and applications. Technology is something that is growing and changing every day, and at times may seem difficult to keep up with! When introducing it to your child, keep in mind that this is yet another opportunity to learn together and create new memories!