As you might know, I've been scheming about how to get the boy an iPad since the summer when I started to read about how much other kids were able to do with this new technology. Oliver has made such great strides this year and I'm thrilled with the learning and growth that he's achieved, but I'm ever on the lookout for ideas that might make that learning easier for him -- and the teaching easier for me! Then, just in time for the holidays, a local donor made my dream a reality.
Initially I had planned to download and experiment with the apps in the evening after the kids went to sleep, then wrap it up and put it under the tree for Christmas morning. But I just couldn't keep it to myself and on Thanksgiving day, two days after I had it in my hot little hands, I decided that it was the spirit of Christmas, not the day, that mattered. And? Oliver loves -- LOVES -- his iPad! And for that, I love it, too. And for me, a self-proclaimed and proud Luddite, that is quite a statement.
What do I love about it? I love that Oliver can easily do things with the iPad that are hard for him in other ways. For example, one of his favorite apps is a one that features Tangrams. We have a couple of boxes of Tangrams here that I pull out from time to time and, while Oliver does like them, it is hard to sustain his interest in them as they get more complex. He also tends to get distracted by the many pieces involved. Not so with the Tangram app -- watching him persist in solving even the most difficult ones just makes my heart happy.
Also, writing has been hard for my boy. When he holds a pen or marker or crayon, he dearly loves to just scribble. Asking him to control his strokes is like asking him to sit still -- he just can't do it. But with the iPad? He can do both!
The other thing I love about the iPad? Early mornings. Oliver wakes up fairly early everyday and then he is most happy to use his boundless energy. I, on the other hand, need to sit still and drink a cup of coffee and not have a kid jumping on my bed. Our new routine with the iPad involves sitting quietly in my bed, me with a hot mug of coffee and Oliver with any number of diversions.
Oh, and did I mention the sharing? Turn-taking? Interest in what a partner is doing? The iPad is one of the first things that has really motivated my boy to do these things. I love watching how he engages with his brother over a simple bowling app or a puzzle.
For all the great things, there are a few that are not so great. The biggest is that I can see how it could turn into a really static exercise if I am not careful. Oliver could get very hung up in doing the same things over and over again. For example, his favorite app of the moment is iWrite Words -- and I love it, too. But if I'm not careful to engage with him over what he is doing it could just become a static exercise that doesn't really promote any sort of thinking. The other thing I dislike about the iPad is that it has become an obsession for Sami. The first thing he said to me this morning upon opening his eyes was: "Where is the iPad?"
Overall though, I'm thrilled with this new tool we have in our hands! I'm so, so incredibly thankful to those who made it possible. I'm surprised to find myself a qualified skeptic of technology, and I'm excited to see what possibilities are around the corner!