During my younger days, computers were a luxury. My family had one in the common room, but children were usually not allowed near it. The only time I had access to the computer was during e-learning periods, and that made me excited beyond words. Today, almost every child I come across owns at least one smart device. What amuses me most is that even when a toddler is crying, shoving a mobile device into the toddler’s hands seem to become an increasingly common solution.
While we can understand modern parents making use of technology to keep their little monsters at bay, it is still saddening to see that many of these parents are, themselves, very drawn to their handheld devices. Call me old-fashioned, but it annoys me to no end when a family sits physically at a restaurant table without exchanging words, because they’re all so absorbed with their devices. Have we become so attached to our devices that it is affecting the way we perceive, and spend time with our family? Other than having sub-optimal family time, exposure to these devices in early ages can make early learning less enriching, and inefficient.
It is important to know when to let go of the devices so as to focus on what is most important - spending quality time with love ones. Many parents feel that quality time means having to plan big gatherings, or bringing the children to amusement parks and spending a bomb there. That’s not necessarily true. Established in London in 1991, Laurence King Publishing, one of the world’s leading publishers in the creative arts, publishes a huge collection of books and gifts that are perfect for everyday fun with the young ones.
Instead of being engrossed in your individual devices, try Laurence King’s Make & Move activity series. Available in multiple designs, each activity book comes with interesting characters to be pressed out, and assembled. This activity can be done by the child alone, but would be way easier and engaging if accompanied by parents. The child can choose to follow the simple instructions, or trial and error a completely new way to put together his own paper puppet. It trains the general ability of the child, and enhances his general reasoning ability such as learning capacity, and problem solving skills. This ability will bring your child a long way, especially in terms of solving complicated problem sums, and problem based learning. What’s better than learning, and having fun simultaneously?
The working memory is responsible for the transient holding and processing of new, and stored information, improving the working memory enhances reasoning, comprehension, learning, and memory updating. In a study by Temple University, researchers find that reliance on devices that store information on our behalf can make us less inclined to encode and store that information in long-term memory. In layman terms, it’ll take your child longer to memorise the multiplication table. To facilitate memory processing, I always go for Laurence King’s Match card game series. Don’t be fooled by its simple set-up, I’ve spent a few hours on the cards by implementing newer ways to play them. You can start off by matching animals with their characteristics, or match the right pair of cards by memorising the positions of the cards before they’re flipped over. Or, you can have a game of charades - one pair of cards can only be matched if the child successfully acts out the animal and its characteristics.
Contrary to popular belief, creativity is more skill than inborn talent. Children learn to be creative overtime, which helps in them being able to look at things from different perspectives, and adapt quickly to their surroundings. Unfortunately though, children showcasing creativity is a messy event - I used to vandalise my cupboards at home with markers because drawing on paper got boring, and also because I needed somewhere less structured. Here I introduce the Superhero Comic Kit by Laurence King. With lots of room for fantasy, the kit provides ample space for unstructured and child-directed play - it is the ultimate kit for creative expression. The child can play with up to ten of the super story prompts, complete his own comic book, with illustrations, colours, and stickers all of his own choice.
Technology is a double-edged sword - its effects is highly dependent on how we choose to utilise it. Take a break from the screen, engage your children, and venture into the world of fantasy. You’ll be grateful when you look back at these simple, yet pleasing moments, and be proud to say, “Hey, I’ve been a great part of my children’s childhood!”