Thursday, January 25, 2007

Teach Your Children To Use Computers Wisely

The previous blog - “Is Technology the Answer to our Education Problems?” - resulted in several astute comments. I will therefore spend more time discussing these ideas in depth:

- How early should children be introduced to computers?
- How much time in front of the computer is healthy at any age?
- The library or the Internet?
- What are the education problems of today?
- Is there a silver bullet?

Today’s entry will concentrate on the first question: how early should children be introduced to computers?

Naturally, as parents, we want our children to excel. So if we see somebody else’s 2-year old bang away on the computer, we will naturally wonder whether it’s time to introduce our own toddler to the wonderful world of colourful pixels.

Most 3- and 4-year olds are capable of working a computer mouse and understanding how to use programs aimed for children: colouring, simple action games, computerised versions of open-the-flap, and so on.

But how early is too early? And how early is too late? Will we stand in the way of our preschooler’s becoming a computer genius if we deny them the opportunity to play with computers?

Many people, especially those who don’t consider themselves computer-literate, are in favour of teaching their children computer skills as early as possible. But the irony is that our attitude as parents really counts here more than early exposure. If we approach the computer with a mixture of fear and awe, chances are, our children will subconsciously mimic our behaviour. If, however, they see us use a computer as though it’s an ordinary tool (a screwdriver or an encyclopaedia), they themselves will feel confident to try it out.

There is research suggesting that preschoolers who use computers are smarter and better prepared for school: The same article argues that too much computer time - at any age - may have negative effects.

Another article suggests that children under 3 are too young to use computers because their learning style is mainly kinaesthetic:

(If you’d like to find out more about learning styles, please visit Creative Learning on

In general, experts seem to agree that computers help children make progress in such areas as nonverbal skills, structural knowledge, long-term memory, manual dexterity (mousing, action games), verbal skills, problem solving, abstraction, and conceptual skills.

Of course, computers are not the only way to help children fulfil their potential. There are songs, rhymes, piano lessons, climbing frames, trampolines, colourful paints, clay modelling, cooking lessons, swimming, stories, books, nature walks and most important of all: parental love and attention.

To paraphrase one of the earlier comments:
- Computers CAN stimulate young minds.
- Computers don't necessarily stimulate young minds.
- Computers are not the ONLY thing that can stimulate young minds.

Moderation seems to be the key. Computers are a tool, but a computer is neither sufficient nor necessary to grow happy, stimulated, creative children.

As children grow older and change from preschoolers into school students, you can also check their individual learning styles to find out whether they would benefit from computer-aided learning. Please see for more details.

(In next week’s blog: How much time in front of the computer is healthy at any age?)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Is Technology the Answer to our Education Problems?

In the 1980s and 1990s, we all thought that computers would bring in the new golden millennium, a millennium characterised by greater efficiency, greater productivity and fewer work hours.

We are now older and wiser. We’ve lived the IT paradox: the faster the computer, the longer the office hours. Instant communication (email, mobile phones) demands instant results, all of them spell-checked and cleverly formatted. Work pressures result in increased stress levels. Deadlines cost us our family life. Internet browsing can cost us our marriages.

So, the question that I’d like to pose is this: if computers are so fraught with danger, why do we still introduce them at the lowest possible age at school and at home? As parents, we still spend money on educational computer games, and we judge the local school by how many computers it has in its lab.

The proponents of computer-based education claim that:

- Computers stimulate young minds by making learning fun.
- The Internet allows students to explore whole new worlds in real time.
- Resources available on the Internet make researching new topics enjoyable.
- Tedious drills like times tables can be rehearsed on the tireless, patient computer.
- Technology makes it easy to communicate.

What do you think? Is it a good idea to teach a 3 year old how to use a mouse? Do computers stimulate or stifle creativity? Should a computer be doing a teacher’s job? Oh, and while we’re at it, what do you think a computer’s Teaching Style might be? (To find out more about Teaching Styles, visit us on

We look forward to reading your comments.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Learning Styles and Personalized Teaching Pocket PAL

"As teachers generally teach the way they learn best themselves, they will often not be aware that more than half of their students learn very differently and need different approaches. It's a sad truth that a mismatch between teaching methods and learning styles always leads to discipline problems, reduced academic achievement and often comes with a high social cost.

It is possible for both teachers and students to become more flexible in using analytic and holistic approaches but teachers need to lead the way by practicing certain strategies.”

That’s an excerpt from Barbara Prashnig’s latest book, “Learning Styles and Personalized Teaching Pocket PAL”, published by Network Continuum 2006. If you’re an educator and would like an express introduction to Learning and Teaching Styles, this is the book for you. Its slim dimensions (10cm by 20cm) allow you to carry it with you for easy on-the-spot consultation.

Although aimed primarily at teachers, the book is also an invaluable resource for parents who are interested in helping their children achieve their learning potential.

Full of illustrations and supporting graphs, bullet points, overviews and summaries, this book practices what it preachers by catering to the diverse Learning Styles of its readers.

The book is available from our website,

Creative Learning would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a wonderful learning new year.