As a daycare provider for children 5 and younger, I am amazed to see children turning 4 who can’t easily guide their way through the Internet on simple games. Having computer skills at an early age is like teaching your child how to count or say the alphabet. It will be expected from him as early as kindergarten. Parents need to realize that learning computer skills at an early age is just as important as learning how to read. In the future, it will be nearly impossible to function without basic computer knowledge.
Giving your toddler 30 minutes of computer time each day can really add to their learning experience. Learning computer skills at an early age is imperative and prepares your child for the fast paced learning environment he will be exposed to as early as kindergarten.
When you first teach your child how to use the basic functions of the mouse and keyboard, you may want to try these websites, which utilize basic point and click methods to play interactive learning games.
Sproutonline.com is one of my favorite Web sites for toddlers just learning to use a computer. My son started learning mouse applications and internet browsing skills at the age of 2 by playing the games on this website. The first game he ever played was a Barney Counting Game that helped him learn to use the mouse correctly. In this game, the child has to place the mouse over a chicken and then simply click the mouse. As the child locates each chic with his cursor, the game counts the chickens by forming a bubble around them and floating them into a silo where they are counted and numbered. Not only does it teach them how to count, it also teaches hand eye coordination and the basic mouse techniques required to browse the net. Click here for the Barney Counting Game: http://www.sproutonline.com/sprout/games/detail.aspx?id=e0e8db87-223f-4706-934b-997a01819007
Sproutonline.com offers another game called Moon Rock Catch that provides mouse practice for your child. In this game, your child has to move the mouse back and forth on the mouse pad in order to catch moon rocks. In the advance version of the game, your child must only catch certain colored rocks. Your child has to focus and make quick decisions to catch the proper colored rocks before they fall to the surface of the moon. Click here for the Moon Rock Catch game: http://www.sproutonline.com/sprout/games/detail.aspx?id=80505ef7-556e-40eb-8a08-99c1008da3ef
I also really like the way the website is laid out. The games are sorted by character and by the type of game. It allows parents and children to browse pictures and easily choose a game with certain skills or favorite characters. After about a week of being on this site, my son was browsing through multiple pages and playing games without assistance.
Once your child has mastered the browsing phase and comprehends the basic functions of his mouse, you can try additional Web sites that offer more advance keyboard applications and techniques.
NickJr.com is a Web site that also offers many TV Character games that children love including Dora The Explorer, Diego, and Wow Wow Wubzy. Several of the games require keyboard functions to include using the space bar, arrow keys, and the enter key. For example, Diego’s Snowboard Rescue requires you to click the spacebar to jump while moving the mouse left and right to guide Diego down the slopes.
Even Hasbro, the toy company, has a Web site where kids can play games with their toys. One of the most popular games with toddlers right now is Transformers because of the new movie series. This site is even a bit more advanced than NickJr.com and I would recommend saving these games until your child has had several months on one of the other sites.
For transformer games go here: http://www.hasbro.com/monkeybartv/default.cfm?page=Brands/BrandHome&brand=496
The Hasbro site offers “Flight of the BumbleBee” which is more of a videogame than a learning game. However, your child will still learn more advanced coordination skills with the mouse and keyboard as they drive a yellow Camero over cliffs and valleys to reach an opposing transformer at the end of their journey. The car transforms and battles his opponent to go to the next level. It probably isn’t the best site for learning traditional subjects, but it is fun and better than the Xbox games that are available on the market for entertainment.
There are many sites that offer on line interactive games for pre-school children, but if you follow this recommended sequence at an early age, your child will be prepared to maneuver more complicated sites as they get older.
When you first sit down with your child at the computer, you need to have a lot of patience. Your first step will be explaining the relation of the mouse and the cursor. Have your child manipulate the mouse and try to point and click on an assigned object. If they can accomplish this task, they are ready to learn. If they just don’t get it, wait a bit longer and try again in a month or so. Until they understand this basic principles behind using the mouse, they will have a very difficult time manipulating the computer at all and both of you will end up very frustrated. If you can make the time to sit and play with your child, it may help them to watch you playing the games first. Just let them rest their hand on yours while you move the mouse and play the games. At least they can be exposed to the material and the sequence of the games until they learn to coordinate the mouse and cursor.