The first Appy Kids, Appy Parents Workshop was held on Saturday 23 August at the gorgeous South Curl Curl Surf Lifesaving Club, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. A group of parents and their enthusiastic pre-schoolers attended the workshop to learn more about healthy, safe and even educational ways to use iPads.
I decided to offer the workshop after chatting with lots of parents who expressed concern about their little ones using iPads.
Is it okay for pre-schoolers to be using iPads?
What are the best apps for pre-schoolers?
Are they just playing or can they really learn with iPads?
How much time should they be spending with iPads?
Thee problem is there is so much misleading information out there for today’s parents when it comes to iPads and young children. So I decided to create a practical workshop that addressed today’s parents’ concerns about iPads and their little ones. A workshop that would separate fact from fiction. A workshop that educated parents (not made them feel guilty). A workshop that was fun!
There was a distinct conversation I had with another mum at the local playground that cemented my decision to design and deliver a workshop where parents attended with their little ones. She explained how guilty she felt about letting her three year-old use her iPad every now and then, even though she had a hunch that it might be beneficial for her daughter. She disclosed that she normally told her friends that her daughter didn’t use the iPad because she was riddled with so much guilt. We need to ditch this techno-guilt once and for all!
And that’s how the Appy Kids, Appy Parents workshop was conceived.
I decided on a practical workshop for parent with their children (and their iPads) because I thought that this was the best way to showcase how beneficial these devices can be for young children, when they’re used appropriately. I also wanted parents to see how their children responded to specific types of apps, not just the drill-and-skill, rote-learning apps that dominate the children’s section of the iTunes App Store.
I’m also acutely aware of how time-poor many parents are, so I thought a practical workshop with their children was a great way to spend quality time with their little ones and also increase their knowledge when it comes to parenting in the digital age. Win win. (I also knew that some parents would feel more comfortable in a practical workshop if their IT support team was there with them- i.e. their pre-schooelr.)
So when the workshop venue (that happened to be at one of my favourite places in the world) unexpectedly became available (I’d enquired earlier and the only bookings were for late October) I knew that it was time to jump and offer the workshop.
And I’m so glad that I did!
The workshop was conducted over two hours, with plenty of off-screen, hands-on activities for the children. A scrumptious morning tea was also enjoyed (prepared by my super-talented mother-in-law). There was lots of healthy treats to fuel the developing brains (and hungry mums who were ever-so-grateful not to cook).
The workshop started with a practical task, where the children drew a picture and simultaneously recorded their voice. This was a great way to break the ice and to also highlight how the iPad can be a great tool to encourage little ones to use language skills (which is critical for their brain development).
Next, the little ones had some screen-free time where they constructed playdough models and read a book with Jan. Their playdough creations were transformed into a speaking photo in a later part of the workshop.
Whilst the children were happily occupied I spoke to the parents about “secret parents’ business”. I showed the parents how to set up various Parental Controls on their iDevices. One of the most important tips that I shared was all about preventing ‘appcidents’ (accidentally making expensive in-app purchases and/or deleting apps). I also showed parents how to ‘lock’ children into apps using Guided Access and how to set the device’s timer to prevent ‘techno-tantrums’.
The morning continued with parents spending a lot of time exploring a range of quality apps with their little ones. Thanks to our workshop sponsors, Nosy Crow, Shiny Things and Tiny Twiga Studios the children enjoyed a range of free apps with their parents, as well as other apps which they’d downloaded before the workshop.
In the space of two hours the parents and children created a talking artwork, recorded a talking photo, made digital robots, followed a series of yoga moves, made their own multimedia flashcards, read some book apps, gave themselves a crazy hair u part wigs cut and cooked a cake. And there was no mess to pack up.
But best of all, the parents could see first-hand just how beneficial the apps were for their child’s learning and development. The parental guilt and confusion was replaced with excitement and knowledge.
These parent comments perfectly convey this:
“You leave feeling that you are educating them and know what to say to parents that look down on you.”
“I now know what to look for when choosing apps and learnt how to use the iPad to interact with my child.”
“It was genuinely useful and fun. Some fab tips. J I think you may have changed my life with the timer trick- hooray!”
“It was spot-on with information parents need to make this new technology work for families. Absolutely loved it!!!!”
I couldn’t have asked for a better start to these hands-on workshops. I now plan on delivering elsewhere (and yes, Australia-wide in 2015 hopefully). The children participated enthusiastically and the parents were engaged and asked some great questions. It really was a great morning. I was thrilled to be able to share this important information, tips, tricks and tools with the people who matter most- parents.
I’ve had a few enquiries already about my next venue and I hope to finalise this soon. Details will be available here on my website.
However, if you have a group of parents who are interested in this workshop then I can deliver it at your home, or your pre-school, or childcare centre, school, church. If you’re interested click here or leave a comment below and we’ll look into the logistics of organising this for you. Minimum numbers apply.