Back in my childhood days, we had educational TV shows like Sesame Street and Romper Room and those really old Apple Computers in the classroom. Each class had one computer and if you finished all your work for the week you might get to play part of an educational game on Friday. Today, there is an enormous amount of educational gizmos, gadgets, and educational websites. There are a ton of "educational" TV shows, computer games, children's books on mp3's and e readers, apps for Ipods, Ipads, and telephones. All of these things are available pretty much every where and at the push of a button.
This can be a good thing. A child can have the opportunity to spend time on the computer learning something educational. A audio book on an mp3 player can provide entertainment on a rainy afternoon or while traveling in the car. Educational apps on your phone or Ipod can keep a child occupied in the waiting room of a doctor's office.
But, these items cannot and should not replace the one on one time a child has learning from their parents. Nothing can take the place of snuggling with your children over their favorite picture book, or writing their name in the sand. An educational app is not going to provide the same sense of accomplishment as a child actually having the chance to count and sort M&M's by color and to figure out how many are left when mom eats two. A computer website showing insects and all of their habitats is not the same as getting outside and exploring the insect world first hand. It is wonderful that we have all of these things at our finger tips, but these items should be used sparingly as tools to reinforce what is being taught and should not replace a young child's education, exploration, creative thinking, and imaginative play. Put down the DS, close the computer, and find a great living book to read and engage your child!