In today’s environment, children are surrounded by and interacting with screens and online activities practically from birth. Gone are the days of leafing through (often outdated) encyclopedias or wandering through library stacks doing research. Today’s young student has virtually unlimited access to constantly updated information anywhere, anytime via phones, tablets, and computers. There are also countless applications that make tasks much faster and easier for students to accomplish, including online educational software to help make learning more fun and engaging.
Is there a price paid by children for this wealth of information? Recently researchers have come to believe that the cost of too much emphasis on-screen use may be reduced fine motor control in children. Keyboarding and manipulating a mouse do not use the same skills as holding a pencil properly or using a pair of scissors. Although it is important to incorporate educational software for elementary schools into the curriculum, there must be a balance between online and offline learning.
The following are just some ways to encourage the development of fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Put It in Print
While many students find educational software for schools helps them to grasp the basics of written language, they should at the same time be encouraged to use pencil and paper. This includes teaching proper pencil grip, modeling motions used to write letters, and providing time and materials to practice newly acquired skills.
Cut It Out
While using scissors may seem simple, it involves the use of many coordinated skills. Even young children can learn to use safety scissors and can perform high-interest activities that incorporate other attractions. One way to achieve this is by printing favorite characters from educational software for schools. These can be cut out by hand and glued to notebook covers or used to decorate the classroom.
Stick ‘Em Up
Peeling and placing stickers of favorite cartoons or characters from online educational software can be another great way to connect virtual and tactile realms.
Draw paint, sculpt, model. All of these activities help young minds to develop hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity. These skills need to be taught but remember that the real art is in the process, not the result!
Many children now think of gaming as a screen activity. While there can be numerous benefits to games provided by educational software for elementary schools, children should also get up and play. Many young children will need to be explicitly taught the basic skills we take for granted. Throwing, catching, hopping, jumping all use different sets of motor control skills. When you take a five-minute break in your classroom for a game of sponge ball catch you are helping students activate different brain patterns. This will in turn make them better, more activated learners.