In the age of e-books for toddlers and endless TV programs aimed at the nursery school set, children today become technologically savvy soon after they learn to walk. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for preschool-age children, said Hamilton-based occupational therapist Barbara Smith and author of “From Rattles to Writing,” but the best way to prepare children for reading and writing is to focus on playtime with blocks, puzzles, and, yes, old-fashioned paper books. Here are common mistakes Smith said parents often make.
1. Always putting babies on their backs. Yes, this is the safest position for sleeping, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, to lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, but babies need tummy time during the day to strengthen shoulders and arms.
2. Using e-books instead of cardboard or paper books. While occasional use of electronic books is fine for young children, Smith said, it is critical that they experience the tactile sensation of turning pages and manipulating a book to learn how it should be opened and read from left to right. These inputs are crucial for brain development and future reading skills.
3. Too much electronic art and not enough use of real scissors. Many kids today think of cutting and pasting as things done only on a computer. Pre-schoolers should also be making art projects using messy finger paints, ripping paper, and squeezing glue bottles.