Like most parents, I struggle with “device time.” Is an hour on the IPAD too much? Will the prolonged time spent staring at a lit screen cause eye strain, interrupt sleep patterns, reduce social skills, take away from real family time, etc.
As with anything in life, balance and moderation are key. Since the kids are on a device, maybe we can steer them toward an educational app. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) complied a list of some favorite Apps used by School Based OT Practitioners (link to full article cited here provided below).
OT’s have long used specialized computers and tablets as assistive technology devices to help children access and interact within their environment. A few of the many uses for these devices were to help children with tasks like speaking/communicating, moving around in their wheelchairs, and typing school work. Today, there are Apps available for all children to benefit. Let’s take a closer look at some of these.
Dexteria and Dexteria Jr. are two wonderful apps, which are geared toward improving fine motor skills, eye hand coordination and handwriting.
Rush Hour is another App that is utilized to help children improve their visual perceptual skills. Children are required to use ocular motor abilities, such as scanning, tracking and memory.
One of my all time favorite websites, eyecanlearn.com, seeks to improve many significant areas of visual and perceptual skills. Many of the “games” on this website are the very foundational skills needed for reading, writing, and overall academic success.
There are many handwriting Apps available. Wet-Dry-Try is recommended by OTs because it allows children to practice prewriting lines and letter formation on a tablet.
Some of our children need help with transitions due to anxiety, lack of communication, or behavior. First Then Visual Schedule is a great tool to prepare children for what is expected and what is coming next.
I also love Apps with child friendly visual timers, like Countdown.
In summary, it looks like technology is here to stay. With some guidance our children can really benefit from using the correct Apps, which will build skills.
Visit aota.org and take a look at the link below for a full listing of educational and therapeutic Apps.
How School-Based OT Practitioners Use iPads and Tablets: Ten Apps to Try. AOTA, 2016. October 19, 2016.