Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Web sites for toddlers

A freelance journalist recently contacted me because he was writing a piece for a parenting magazine on choosing good websites for toddlers and wanted my opinion on what I felt were good sites to recommend. I thought I would post my response to him here in case anyone could add information that would be helpful. If anyone has additional suggestions, do add comments or send me an email with them. This is what I wrote to him:

It would be important to point out to parents that the 'skill and drill' websites we often see for children of this age (where, for example, they link words to letters or pictures) can be very demotivating and can feel for children as if they are completing electronic worksheets - and early years educators would not promote the use of worksheets for young children. Instead, the best websites would have some or all of the following features:

- bright and attractive, with good use of colour
- clear images
- large font, using a typeface that is open and easy to read
- clear navigation, with key words in text boxes that are easily
recognisable from page to page, and on the same point on each
page so children become familiar with, for example, where the
'back' button is

- relevant signs and symbols linked to words so that children
are able to guess what words mean e.g. use of an arrow with
the word 'back'

- use of pictures and maps to aid navigation
- activities and games which promote creativity and imaginative
responses and promote interactivity

-effective use of animation
- appropriate use of sound and music to stimulate.

For a great example of a good website that involves these elements, I would suggest:

By the way, the 'In the Night Garden' programme is fantastic, if you haven't come across it. It's from the same team that created the 'Teletubbies' and, like that programme, it is based on a sound understanding of early childhood development and learning.

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