In our last blog post, we looked at technology to support early reading skills in 3-4 year olds. This time, reader, we are looking at 4-5 year olds - preschoolers in UK and US terms. This is an interesting group, as many will be ‘schooled’ in technology at home, more than with their childcare.
As a result, the Internet is full of mixed viewpoints, research and . . . anxiety, to be honest. From cautionary articles like ‘The iPad Is Stealing My Son’s Childhood’ to print-books-only blogs that give ‘Tips for Reading to the Age of 5’, there is a real mixture out there folks. Therefore, we think if you are reading this, you are probably looking for support and ideas. I cannot stress too much, as a mummy to a three-year-old, that there needs to be a balance. My child is also a boy and I am more than aware of the ‘news’ headlines that link screen time to ADHD. Therefore my son is allowed to ‘play’ on my iPhone, but the apps I let him use are all aimed at language skills and motor skills. He is on a tight leash - not literally - poor dear. Well, Mummy is a teacher . . .
I prefer to look at blogs like kidsactivitiesblog.com, where there are heaps of great ideas for play time with kids - from science projects, toy car maths, and name games (big in our house), and reading. Therefore we hope you have balance and not going with 100% screen time in your house (or even 10%) for 4-5 year olds. But when they are allowed, here are some great sites that we have found to help teach them to engage with reading.
Ages 4-5 Pre-Schoolers Pads and Pods
Reading Support: Call attention to letters on signs. Talk about letter sounds (“Mom & milk both have ‘mmm’ sound at the beginning,” for example).
Dare Devil Mission: Reinforce decoding and phonics concepts using online resources.
Why? By using ‘reading materials’ around you (signs and names of streets and stores) you can help children learn to decode the words they discover in their immediate world. Show them how to work out which words rhyme and which letters make what sounds. This type of auditory and visual training is an important step in learning to read! Online materials can help you develop these important building blocks for reading.
Tools: Look at the best toddler word building and rhyming apps and online shows. For example, ‘Alphablocks’ and ‘Sesame Street’ have a range of episodes that focus on rhyming and building words. You can also take look at electronic toys, like Leap Pads. The ‘Letter Factory’ is a favourite of many little ones. Also find out what is available in the App store. Instead of just ‘feed the animal’ games, try more challenging ones like ‘Dr. Seuess’ and similar titles that encourage young readers to interact whilst they listen to the story (and who doesn’t like ‘The Cat in the Hat’?).
Similarly, try introducing children to books that also have videos/ TV/ theatrical shows that they can start to get involved in. Ken Nesbitt's poetry is a great example. His website has a range of activities and links to get you started.
‘Reading Eggs’ is a favourite around the globe. While it is not free (it requires a subscription), we have heard directly from schools and parents that it really does the trick. ‘Reading Eggs’ is available for iPads and Androids, and has a range of printable resources.
If you have any more suggestions for this age range or comments on 4-5 year olds and screen time, please post them below. Also if you are a parent and/or teacher, we would love to hear the ‘different’ sides of your experience. Do parents need more information on this topic or less? Who do you trust when it comes to early reading and media?
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This is where Jules and Nic will post articles, links to interesting sites and things that we think our TechnoTeachers will like.