There are many reasons to buy your children an iPad or iPad Mini for Christmas or their birthday... and not get them just another toy! Getting them an iPad is going to expand their intelligence, their creativity and their capacity for exploring the world they live in. Each of our children already has an iPad and it is the BEST thing we have done for their long-term creative and educational development.
Why is an iPad a great gift?
An iPad is the most flexible digital tool on the planet. It's capacity for taking a child into the realms they are interested in is unparalleled, and its ability to engage them in learning is years ahead of where traditional educational methods are today. (Forgive me teachers for being so blunt, but it's true!)
The iPad is NOT a game, it is NOT a laptop, it is NOT a phone, and it is NOT a toy, though it CAN be used as all of these things.
An iPad is the best gift you could give a young child of today, equivalent to giving them a toothbrush for oral health, a pair of shoes to run in, or clothes to keep them warm... for a digital native like they are - it is one of the essentials. The future they live in IS digital, and an iPad is the best medium for the realm that they will live in for the rest of their lives.
With over 250,000 apps custom built for the device, and almost a million apps that will run on it in total, giving an iPad is just the beginning of the gift - it keeps getting better and better the more they use it, and the more they find they can do with it.
As I said, an iPad is NOT A TOY, it's better than a toy - better for them, better for you! It has value beyond the fun it brings. For instance:
We homeschool our children. As a professional educator for many years it is amazing to see the RATE of learning taking place on iPad. MATHS: Learning maths has never been so easy, and teaching maths on an iPad is somehow more engaging than a classroom filled with children watching a teacher write on a blackboard - too many distractions compared to the focused approach of iPad Maths Education.
LETTERS: My three year old is enjoying dragging and placing letters into model words on her iPad. She is already learning to recognise the shapes and sounds of individual letters without formalised (sometimes stressful) phonics and literacy tutorials. My boys have learned to write their letters and practice their handwriting with a stylus on a screen. And it is much more ecologically minded than the reams of paper we used to use in my day... who planted trees to replace all that paper, anyway? See iPad Literacy for more.
COMMUNICATION: Another amazing thing is that my six-year-old send a wonderful (and long) iMessage to his great-grandparents (age 95) from his iPad, directly to theirs. But he can't write sentences yet!! He dictated it to Siri, told her to send it to them, and off it went. When they responded he used 'Speak Selection' to read it back to him and had an amazing text-based conversation with them. Imagine, being able to communicate via words without being able to write complex thoughts onto paper. That sure is a leap in what was once impossible.
Creativity and the arts are finally more recognised as important aspects of a holistic education. Take for instance the LOOK of the screens and programs you use on the device you're using to read this post.
Consider the 'look' of the Apps on iPad... they HAVE TO be well designed and LOOK GOOD in order to be utilised.
This doesn't happen without a 'designer' focusing on the aspects of aesthetics and design. For a digital native, Art & Design are part of their world.
Why not give your child an iPad and let them learn to create works of digital art for themselves? Read a bit about iPad & the Arts.
Creative and Performing arts are also given a HUGE boost with iPad. From an Art Teachers perspective it has NEVER been so easy to share the principles of aesthetics, composition, colour theory and art history than right now with iPad. For the performing arts, the ability to make music, movies, plays, animations and other productions is not possible any other way than to take half a semester's time up doing it. With iPad it can be done in a lesson or two.
Example: We went to the circus. We took our iPad. On the way home my eldest son made a move so cool that the circus is adding it to their website. That's pretty outside-the-box of what is usually possible for an eight year old. Videographers beware.
The iPad is NOT a game. Sure, it has games on it but that is only one small component of what is possible with an iPad. The 'games' that are available on the iOS platform include HUNDREDS of educational iPad games ranging from full-on maths games (Mathmateer) and word games (Scrabble, SuperWhy) to puzzles, logic problems, memory games, and even classics like chess, mahjong and checkers. These are NOT games in the same way as shoot-em-up or battle games and the iPad should be looked at as a well-rounded EDUCATIONAL tool with games ON it - though you never even need to install a game-app on the device, if you don't want to. (( But even Great-grampa Joe, age 95, plays solitaire on his iPad 3! ))
My youngest child asked how many minutes were in a week. My eldest said, "I know three ways to find out... 1: use the iPad calculator, 2: use the Convert Units App, or 3: ask Siri!" And there I was, mentally multiplying 60 minutes by 12 hours... and he already had the answer.
My middle son made a music video. He made the music, remixed it, had his brother record (and star in) the video, and has produced it himself, on his iPad. And he's six. It's cool. Know any other 6 year olds who have done this?
My 3 year old can sort money. Fast. She knows her 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent pieces as well as 1 and 2 dollar coins. She learned them in ten minutes on iPad and has not gotten one wrong in two weeks of pop-quizzing afterwards.
Children nowadays ARE 'digital natives' and that that has it's benefits. Using technology is how communications occurs nowadays - and they pick it up fast. It's how everything from schoolwork to feature movies are produced.
It runs our cars, our appliances and our televisions, and gives us access to the unexplored realms of science.
It even lets us explore Mars.
Waiting until children are 'old enough' to have their own device is doing them a dis-service. You don't wait until you're "old" to learn how to swim... why do that with technology? Give the young child in your life the most resourceful bit of tech there is - give them an iPad.
You won't regret it. All three of ours have an iPad, and even great-grandpa age 95 says "It's the best thing that's ever been created." Take it from him. He's been around long enough to know.
Enjoy your child, and help them to enjoy their life-long-learning with iPad.
Once you get them an iPad, read this: "Setting up iPad to give to your Child for Christmas or their Birthday" and browse through these lists of recommended iPad Apps for Children this Christmas (2012) by Age Group:
It will help - a lot!