Digital Media Tips

By Sherry Maysonave, Author, EggMania: Where’s the Egg In Exactly, www.maniatales.com

kid-laptopDigital devices are kid magnets. Fascinated by smart phones, iPads, tablets, and gaming devices, today’s tech-savvy kids can easily get overloaded by digital media.  One of the pitfalls of too much technology is the loss of imagination time which is key to keeping the genius factor alive and well in kids. Recent MRI studies show that the use of imagination activates multiple areas of the brain with increased blood flow, which is associated with neuronal activity. Interestingly, it was found that narratives were a primary imagination trigger, and this included stories in eBook format as well as traditional books and even oral story-telling.

 

Parents can employ the advantages of imaginative journeys by using “interactive” eBooks to satisfy their kids’ digital cravings.  Narrated and enhanced eBooks typically incorporate the three primary learning modalities—visual, audio, and kinesthetic—simultaneously. Multi-sensory and multi-dimensional experiences are like brain vitamins, by significantly increasing imaginative components and learning potential.

 

How can parents optimize and ensure that their children’s screen time, even with eBooks, is a beneficial experience?

 

Tips for using interactive ebooks to engage your kids:

1. Multi-Sensory Components — Visual, Audio, and Kinesthetic

Visual: To fully engage children visually and to stimulate their imaginations, select illustrated ebooks that are visually-rich, those having artful and colorful graphics beyond typical kiddy art.

Audio: Sound enhanced ebooks that have two modes of reading are best: a) Narration with music and sound effects; b) Read Myself. To optimize audio integration, allow children to enjoy and explore the narrated version with enhanced sound. Then, to practice oral reading skills, set up auditions for “the best narrator.” Use recorders or smart phones to tape children’s versions. Allow kids to create fun sound effects and add music to their narrations. For younger children who are not yet reading advanced vocabulary, parents may record for them. Involve them though in the nuances of your oral expression. Include their voices on the recording by having them read, speak, or repeat after you, some of the words or short sentences.

Kinesthetic: Encourage tapping and touching of the screen to activate kinesthetic and interactive components. Ask them to zoom in and out on art images, tap for duplication or animation of images, and tap words for definitions. iPad users can take screen shots of illustrations, then print them in black and white for kids to color, paint, trace, or copy. Hands-on activities such as these extend the digital world into their real world and offer more opportunities for kinesthetic application.

2. Emotional Elements

A. Discuss stories and illustrations with children; ask questions, “What is their favorite illustration? And why?”… Their favorite words, fun facts, etc. Avoid asking, “What did you learn?” Host a live chat or set-up mock television interview to make this more fun for kids and show you value their opinion. Allow them to express without making any answers wrong. This is an opportunity to learn more about what your children are thinking.

B. Support the hero in your child. Develop their subjective thinking skills by helping them analyze the subtler life lessons typically inherent in children’s narratives. Kids do not always integrate what we think they will. Help them come to positive conclusions by asking them questions about the main character or characters, asking what they liked about them/him/her and didn’t like about them. Ask how they would respond to the dilemma or conflict if they were that character. Set up a stage effect for kids to act out these components or the entire story. Family participation encouraged.

3. Language Development

Give kids a choice of two illustrations from an ebook or have them select two favorites. Then have them write a new story, poem, or song lyrics based upon the illustrations and what the images inspire in their imagination. Older kids can be required to have a lexical humor slant to their story, poem, or song. They may also want to choose a genre such as comedy, drama, true crime, romance, memoir, etc.

4. Family Fun

Extend the subject matter into family time to further develop and enhance kids’ imaginations. Play games, such as charades, using vocabulary-rich phrases and words from ebook narratives. A family/friends version of “Who’s Smarter than a Fifth Grader” can be played using the Fun Facts that some ebooks provide.

Why 30 Million Americans Can’t Read

By Will D. Rhame

Education and Literacy Advocate; Author and Founder, The Voyagers Series, www.thevoyagers.net

child-readingIf we take a moment to investigate our current state of affairs regarding scholastic achievement in this country, we quickly come across some alarming statistics. Allow me to update you with a few current facts, and then let’s consider some possible reasons why we have fallen so far behind other industrialized nations.

1.) The U.S. scores at the bottom of all industrialized nations scholastically!
2.)  Thirty million Americans can’t read!
3.)  Forty percent of 4th graders can’t read at the basic level!
4.)  China and India have more honor students than the U.S. has kids!
5.) The U.S. is at the top of the list when it comes to spending money on education!

What is happening to the United States when it comes to education? There are a number of factors, but for the purpose of this article, I am only going to focus on a few.

First, let’s look at the dynamics of our society’s employment culture. Over the past fifty years, the American family has become a dual-income structure. Problems often arise among children when a parent is no longer home after school to help guide and coach them.

Second, there is the exponential increase in technology. Technology is helpful in most respects but  can be very  distracting in others. Did I say distracting?  With  so many devices, games, computers, cell phones, TVs, videos, etc. vying for a child’s attention, it’s much more difficult for the average child to focus on learning to read and to later make the decision to devote time to studying.

Third, there  are the ever-changing teaching philosophies that are imposed upon teachers. Public schools teachers have little, if any, time to be creative. Instead, they are required to teach kids how to pass tests. Additionally, they have  often  had to become psychologists, disciplinarians, and in some cases, mother/father figures, due to the lack of parental participation in the home and at school.

Fourth, there is the positive option to embrace technology as a means of teaching. It is never going away, so let’s encourage teachers to use technology to help educate children. Kids love gadgets, and many of them are more knowledgeable than adults when it comes to computers and other devices.

That brings us to the heart of the matter    ̶READING. Reading is the foundation of any education, without which little else matters. If a student cannot read, there will be lifelong consequences. Getting children to embrace reading as a fundamental part of their lives is critical. In today’s environment, asking a child to read some of the greatest works of literature is becoming harder and harder. Let’s make it fun for kids to read.

Let’s take advantage of technology and use it to enhance reading skills. Let’s gain the attention of students, and just maybe we can change some of the horrible statistics regarding reading proficiency in our country that now exist.