TechLearning newsletter has a great article about young children and the Internet. Buddy Boy hardly ever goes on the computer and doesn't own any video games, believe it or not, even though I am a computer teacher/library media specialist. In my job I teach kids to use computers and the Internet, but I am in no hurry to put him in front of a screen. I think young children need to interact with the physical world before they learn with the magic box. I think they need to use their bodies, their physical senses and other people to orient themselves in the universe before they spend a lot of time absorbing the virtual, abstract world on the screen. I want my boys to build with blocks, play with sand and water, draw, paint and mess around with play dough and use their bodies to learn and explore before they learn from a mouse and keyboard. I want them to learn to negotiate, play, create worlds, argue, problem-solve, pretend, initiate conversations and laugh with other people in real life before they start chatting with friends online. I think kindergartners and first graders are too young to spend much time on the computer. I know they have plenty of time to learn computer skills, they'll pick them up fast (faster than we did) and by the time they get to second grade it will be a whole new world anyway. Who knows what technology they will master by the time they get to fourth grade, when current nine year olds need to learn to keyboard.
So, with all that said, I am reviewing some really fun and amazing websites designed for young children. This article in TechLearning has a list of important Online Safety Rules to teach children before they get online. (Don't skip that or assume someone else is teaching your child those rules) Then it gives links to nine really well done websites full of games, learning activities, reading lessons, math explorations, and science experiments. If you have young children or teach them you will want to plan to spend some time trying these sites out. I have only looked at the first three in the list and I am very impressed. I might even put Buddy Boy on these sites to see what he thinks.
Here are the three that I have looked at so far: (description and links copied from TechLearning)
Created to help parents and teachers strengthen the learning and playing skills of young children, Chateau Meddybemps explains how children learn, how to help develop a variety of skills, and how to make learning enjoyable for children. With its colorful images, games, and stories, children will find learning fun at this site!
Primarily designed for pre-kindergarten through second grade and approved by CyberSitter, Starfall contains resources for parents and teachers to help children with letter sounds and learning to read. This site is one of the best resources for early childhood education.
Developed for toddlers, Lil' Fingers is a computer storybook, game, activity and coloring site. This wonderful site has color animations, stories, and activities to keep young children edutained for hours.
There are six other sites listed that I haven't had time to look at yet. Please take a look and let me know what you think. Leave a comment and tell me which site you liked the best and why. I'd love to hear what you think about kids and computers too!