About the Family Computer for Preschool Children
Preschoolers range in age from about 3-6, depending on the month they were born. By this time most children are learning the basics of literacy (the alphabet, letter sounds, etc.) and mathematics (numbers, counting, pattern recognition, etc.). When introducing the computer to preschool children, you'll want to explore these concepts in fun ways through engaging games and activities. Try to find activities that match your preschooler's skill level so they aren't frustrated or bored. You can include activities that reinforce what they already know, as well as those that challenge them to learn new things. The following tips, resources and tools will make learning to use the computer a fun experience for your preschooler and yourself.
Safety and Health
It's important to introduce safe and healthy computing practices early on to your preschooler. Help them find a comfortable chair, age-appropriate mouse and computer setup that creates an ergonomically correct
environment. Small details like these will help prevent physical problems later on. Limit their computer use to short sessions as well. Also, as your child learns to use the mouse, write his/her name and becomes more independent, start talking about basic Internet safety
. Try installing a web browser for kids
which limits the sites they can visit to those that are known to be child appropriate. In many cases, you can select just a few pre-approved sites and activities. It prevents young children from getting overwhelmed - or lost - in the many options online.
Games and Software
Preschoolers don't need a lot of time playing on the family computer, but they do appreciate software that allows them to be creative, as well as activities that reflect the learning they might be doing at school or during free play time. Look for software and games with an EC (Early Childhood)
or E (Everyone)
rating from the ESRB
. Games with an E10 (Everyone 10+)
rating or higher are typically too mature both in content and controls for young children.
There are a number of wonderful websites geared toward preschoolers. Look for sites with clear and simple navigation, age appropriate games and content and minimal advertising.
Gadgets and Tools
Preschoolers are better suited to using the mouse and keyboard than their younger siblings, but will still struggle with their fine motor skills. A smaller mouse (either designed for kids or for travel) may help. There are also some great cameras and other gadgets well-suited for this age group.
Since preschoolers are naturally curious, they will love taking on projects using the family computer, camera or video camera. Help them out, or pair them with an older sibling, and they will enjoy all of these fun projects: