All I Want for Christmas is an iPad (or Making the Most of the iPad You Already Have)

by Ellen Doman


With Christmas right around the corner, we are all trying to figure how to get gifts that are really worth getting for our children. When it comes to larger ticket items, it is hard to beat an iPad for usefulness and continued relevance. This is not a gadget that will get put away, but rather a device that can continue to be altered to fit changing needs, changing attention spans, and changing processing levels. This is why we like it so much.

It is hard to beat a device that can review modular math in a way that is actually fun and can also review algebra operations in a way that is pretty fun as well. It can also review telling time or making change, as well as quiz math fact—all in a way that looks a lot like play. With this device we can do language photos, receptive language cards, math fact review, math process reviews, analogies for SAT review, and Critical Reading for the SAT, as well as animal flashcards that are real photos and make the sound of each animal, bird songs, white noise to help your child sleep, a virtual piano keyboard, number tracing, Science flashcards for middle school and elementary school students, virtual tours of European cities, star charts that show your own bit of the universe, and more, and more, and more. It can coach your child until he or she is ready for a 5K.

I have to admit that I was a skeptic, being more of a Barrel-of-Monkeys person myself. I am not generally a lover of electronic devices for my kids or for yours. The huge benefit here is that the children love the device, and I can keep changing it to fit the child’s needs. So if I start out teaching the child to talk and to identify common things, I can use apps for that. Then if I am trying to help the child string more words together, I can use apps for that. Then as I’m teaching the child to read, I can use apps for that. As I add math concepts, I can use apps for that. If I follow this child all the way up to college, there will continue to be apps I can use that will both help and entertain the child, while we reach our goals.

Now the other handy thing is that you, the parent, can have your own folder with apps to make you happy. There are workout apps, recipe apps, flight tracking apps, and a great word dictionary app that I keep on hand. So it isn’t all Angry Birds (although there are quite a few parents out there who have that one).

To use it to the best advantage, change the apps frequently. Many of them are free, and others are often a dollar. We recommend adding new apps and hiding some old ones each week. You will see your child pay renewed attention to this new input. Kid Calc and a few others may stay on for a while, but many can be circulated in and out of use. Interact with your child and the iPad. This will help ensure that your child is not stimming on an app and is interacting with it appropriately. It also helps to ensure that you are getting the most out of the app.

As technology advances there seem to be many new and high-intensity learning opportunities coming our way. Where was all of this fun stuff when I was trying to get my kids to remember math facts? Be that as it may, I am delighted to see it arrive now. So whether your child needs help to pronounce a long “e” sound or help to get high scores on the SAT, this may really help.

There will always be a place for barrels of monkeys and little wind-up horses in the life of children. We still need balls to bounce and slides to climb, books to read, and pencils.

As a supplement to learning, however, this iPad is hard to beat.


NACD Newsletter, Volume 4 Issue 6, 2011 ©NACD

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