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Parents urged by ministers to encourage children to use digital exercise books

Parents are being encouraged by Ministers to ditch teaching their children to write using a pencil and paper and use digital exercise books instead.

The Government is promoting apps for handwriting exercises, interactive story books and educational video games that can be used with youngsters in the home.

But last night, experts warned the approach risks fuelling addiction to technology, with one saying: ‘Handwriting belongs on paper, not a tablet’.

And they insist that families must teach children to read and write using traditional methods, particularly because crucial motor skills are gained by practising writing longhand with a pencil.

Experts insist families must teach children to read and write using traditional methods, particularly because crucial motor skills are gained by practising writing longhand with a pencil (Stock image)

Experts insist families must teach children to read and write using traditional methods, particularly because crucial motor skills are gained by practising writing longhand with a pencil (Stock image)

Experts insist families must teach children to read and write using traditional methods, particularly because crucial motor skills are gained by practising writing longhand with a pencil (Stock image) 

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will today unveil six Department for Education approved apps, which have a focus on ‘early literacy, language and communication’.

The move is part of the government’s drive to improve literary among under-fives and designed to help parents choose from the array of educational apps available.

It comes as a Department for Education (DfE) survey of 876 parents shows that that three quarters of children aged five and under have used smart phone or tablet apps to learn at least once in the last six months.

The six apps, published on the Government-run Hungry Little Minds website, include Kaligo, for children aged three to five.

This is described by the DfE as ‘the first digital handwriting exercise book using a stylus and tablet, built using AI and co-created with teachers, occupational therapists and neuroscientists’.

Another is Lingumi, which features learning, speech recognition and video-based games to help with children’s grammar. It is aimed at two to five-year-olds.

And Teach Your Monster to Read enables school-aged children to match letters and sounds.

But Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, criticised the endorsement of apps.

He said: ‘It is good that the Government is encouraging parents to become involved in children’s literacy. But the DfE’s advice will worsen children’s addiction to mobile phones and iPads.

‘It also risks children whose parents who cannot afford the gismos being left behind.

‘Handwriting belongs on paper, not a tablet, and is a skill which everyone must have in case the new technology is hacked or breaks down.’

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (pictured) will today unveil six Department for Education approved apps, which have a focus on 'early literacy, language and communication'

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (pictured) will today unveil six Department for Education approved apps, which have a focus on 'early literacy, language and communication'

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (pictured) will today unveil six Department for Education approved apps, which have a focus on ‘early literacy, language and communication’

Chris McGovern, of the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘The DfE should be encouraging parents to put away mobile phones and iPads instead of promoting addiction to them.’

He added: ‘This total reliance on digital technology is deskilling children. It’s fundamental to education that children should be able to hand write.

‘This is taking away from children a fundamental skill. There are many occasions on which we need to use handwriting when digital technology is neither appropriate or available.

‘It will affect children’s motor skills – there’s no question about that.’

The expert panel which accredited the apps, was chaired by DfE appointee, Professor Jackie Marsh, of the University of Sheffield and included children’s digital media consultants, early learning charities and researchers at universities.

Mr Williamson said: ‘The first few years of a child’s life are crucial in equipping them with the skills needed for the classroom, and we are working with families to make it easier to weave early learning into daily activities.

‘We know that the majority of families are using technology in fun and visual ways to support their child’s early education, but it can be difficult for busy parents to work out what content is best.

‘This list of expert-approved apps helps them make confident decisions that benefit their child’s language and literacy skills.’

 

Source: Daily Mail – Articles

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