Like many educators I am usually careful using screen-based technology in my therapy sessions. There have been way too many clinical studies pointing to negative consequences of exposing our kids to screen frequently, for prolonged periods of time, and especially for reasons other than learning. These consequences include developing attentional difficulties, hyperactivity, and struggling with socia-emotional learning to name a few. Yet here we are, dealing with the COVID19 crisis, obeying the social distancing rule, and figuring out ways to help our kids learn while being confined to our homes and glued to our screens. Using a screen has sadly become the only way available to us to connect with the world. While not ideal, rest assured this is temporary so let's make the best of this worldwide challenge and help our children to continue learning from home.
In this post I would like to talk about how we can turn using video learning into a positive and most importantly educational experience. It's no secret that many children already enjoy video-based activities, but can we make it as productive as it is fun? Absolutely! Here is one simple example how. There are many short cartoons available on youtube with a variety of characters and plots. Some are wordless (just like those wordless picture books I personally love teaching with so much) and some are, well, with words. You can use both cartoon formats to incorporate language learning and work on lots of various skills such as describing objects and actions, answering wh- questions, predicting outcomes, using language to problem-solve, inferencing others' feelings and even imagining different outcomes!
What kind of videos are best? I would start with short engaging cartoons. Have you seen "Ormie the Pig"? If you haven't, this is the perfect short wordless cartoon I love using with ages 3 and up. Depending on where your child is developmentally (emerging single words, phrases, or maybe higher level language skills such as ability to narrate) you can always modify your goals. On my teletherapy platform (and feel free to do this with your child sharing one screen) I set up my screen to watch this engaging cartoon together with my video learners for 10-15 seconds and then I'll pause. This does two things: it makes the child demand 'more' action and also creates a magical opportunity for language to happen!
You can work on describing what you are seeing as well as predict what will happen next. As an example, you can ask the following questions: "what do you see?", "what is (the character) doing?", "where is the character?", "what do you think will happen next?", "why?" and so on. Allow your video learner to think before you jump in with your cueing and answering for them, modify your demands as needed, and don't forget to have fun.
Once the video is over you then have the perfect opportunity to work on recalling events of the story or maybe even helping your child narrate what happened using specific phrases or sentences, connecting these into one cohesive story. This is one fantastic way to work on many different language skills with just a 4 minute video. Comment below with your favorite video stories and share your experience teaching with this format. We'd love to hear from all of you! Be well, be healthy, and stay home.