Finn plays with the iPad a lot. So much so, in fact, that we actually invested in a second iPad (for me) because he and I were basically, well, fighting over it. I’d be reading a book on it, and he’d be raising hell because he wanted to play on it. Although we’re certainly not parents who give in to their kids’ every demand or buy all the latest gadgets their kids want (we’re one of the only families I know that doesn’t have a Wii, or even a flat-screen TV), the iPad is a different story. More and more, it’s being utilized in classrooms, and even Finn’s speech therapist sometimes uses one with him and her other students. It engages him, it’s interactive (rather than passive, like watching television), and he’s learning from it. More so, in fact, than I realized.
I was shocked to discover recently that he recognizes most of his letters. I did not teach him this – I’ve never been a flashcard-wielding parent with any of my kids, it’s just not me. And he’s not learning this in preschool, either – the preschool he attends is not academic, but rather, developmental.
Do you know what this means? If he can learn his letters, he can eventually learn to read. And before you say, “Of course he’ll learn to read,” let me just say that while many, many kids with Down syndrome do learn to read nowadays, some do not. I try to maintain reasonable and healthy levels of optimism and realism with regard to Finn’s capabilities. Even so, I was surprised at how much this surprised me. Maybe because it happened without any person’s intervention – it was just him and the iPad.
But wait, there’s more!
Not only can he identify letters, he can match those letters up with words that begin with letters he is presented with! I won’t go so far as to say that this is reading or even pre-reading, but it’s certainly a step towards pre-reading.
I’m suddenly feeling very, very fortunate that Finn was born when he was. There is so much educational technology now, it’s relatively easy to access, and the benefits are undeniable. It’s hard to say what studies will show in ten or twenty years, looking back and comparing the educating of kids with intellectual disabilities in this age of technology versus educating them just a half a generation prior, before the technology explosion, but I imagine there will be notable differences.
Here are some of Finn’s favorite iPad apps:
iTot Alphabet (this is the app he’s using in the first clip above)
National Geographic Look and Learn Animals (this is the app he’s using in the second clip above)
Preschool Farm Animals by Photo Touch
First Words – Toddler Touch and Say
Let me know if you have any apps you’d like to suggest!
My son, Chris (ARC Employee of the Month) went to preschool at BlueGrass School in Lexington Ky. His teacher was a retired professor from the university there. I went in to get him one day and she had him on her lap and three other little kids behind a floor standing abacus. She said “he understands this”. (not supposed to understand abstract concepts). I told her I knew that, when he was 6 another teacher told me the same thing. He learned to read, went to Holy Childhood in Rochester NY where the children were allowed to read. The attitude of the public school then was “yes, he can read but he doesn’t understand what he is reading”. NOT TRUE! So I went elsewhere. When Chris was high school age, he started changing classes and had homework, some of which was math. If he didn’t do his homework Sister Benita would ask for his lunchbox and remove something. He got to be known as the kid who would do anything for a Twinkie. It was a puzzle for a while, but worked out. Holy Childhood (Exceptional Children) called him their ‘golden boy’. And today, My! I cannot imagine what today’s kids are going to be able to do! That is so wonderful, Finn will let you know what he has readiness to learn. So happy for him, he will learn to read all the menus, sales, movie listings, all kinds of good stuff! Sincere Best Wishes.
This is great! now I am going to try to use that nifty “press this” thingee that I sort of know how to use to link my blog to this post.
My son looooves that Music Sparkles app on my phone! Thanks for the recommendations, I’m going to try out a few! My little one has a speech delay and I am definitely always looking for some good educational games about language for him.
We have an Kurio Android tablet so I’m going to have to look if see if those same apps are configured for the different platform. I know at least two are because I have them already. I have a few others on my iphone.
My problem is that Trent (4, with Ds) hasn’t really gotten the concept of some of the apps. He stabs away without ever listening to “touch the dog” or “where is the A?” Then he gets frustrated when nothing happens. When I try to hold his stabbing finger (lol) away from the screen long enough for him to hear the commands, he assumes I’m taking the tablet away from him and gets angry. It is strange because he is generally a very good turn taker….just something about the tablet brings out the “mine” attitude.
One thing I’ve done to try to help with the stabbing was get a really simple app of popping circles. When he plays it, he doesn’t stab as much because it is very sensitive to touch. I thought he would transfer the concept to other apps but he hasn’t yet. As soon as he gets on another app, he goes back to stabbing the screen at rapid speed.
Any advice for any of this Lisa? He isn’t learning from it the way Finn is because of his inpatience to stab, stab, stab. Did you “train” Finn in using it first or did he take to it naturally or after watching siblings/you?
BTW, I love the new layout. 🙂
In my rush to ask for advice, I forgot to say GO FINN!!! That is awesome!
Holly, I never showed him how to use the iPad. I think having his speech teacher use one occasionally has helped, as well as watching his siblings, but mostly he seems to have figured it out on his own. But I will say that when I first introduced it to him – maybe a year ago? – he had no interest in it, nor did he have the first clue as to what to do with it.
Finn is precious! How old is he in the two videos? He looks younger in the first one. Thanks!
Thanks, Ann! Finn is four in both videos – they were both taken in the last couple of weeks.
Thanks Lisa! Our little one is 4 also! Wish I could send you a pic privately so you could see my cutie. They would look so cute playing together! We have 7 children also. 🙂