With the end of May here, it’s time for the kiddies to let their brains descend into that miraculous vegetative state known as summer vacation. They’ll get to enjoy twelve weeks of forgetting all that book learning, especially that pesky math, as they camp out playing video games in front of the TV. We parents will marvel at the cerebral osmosis that takes place between their brains and their luminescent flat-panel master. Indeed, summer vacation can be quite transformative!
Although we all deserve a rest from the rigor of school, it probably isn’t the best idea to let our anachronistic agricultural calendar completely get the best of us. As parents, we can make a decent attempt at keeping the learning going through the warm months of summer. One intriguing way to sucker the kids into wanting to learn is to turn that glowing object of their affection – the TV – into a learning device. It turns out that it’s pretty easy to do just that.
If you have an iPad, one particularly easy way is to get an AppleTV. AppleTV is a small device that hooks to your TV through an HDMI cable. It costs about $89 and links to your home network through WiFi. Through an Apple technology called Airplay, the AppleTV module will communicate with compatible applications on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod and display the application’s screen on the TV. There are many AirPlay-compatible apps available from the App Store. The one that I like most is called Doceri, which is free and can be used as an interactive whiteboard. All you have to do is enable AirPlay in Doceri, and whatever you scribble onto the Doceri screen will show up on your TV. This provides a great way for you to explain some math to your kids, for example, assuming, of course, you haven’t forgotten it yourself. (I can help you with that … for a fee.)
If you’re an Android fan instead, I’d recommend using Miracast to project your Android phone or tablet’s screen to the TV. Some newer TVs come equipped with Miracast, but you likely will have to purchase a device such as Netgear’s Push-To-TV ($60) to use this technology. The nice thing about Miracast is that it will project whatever you have displayed on your Android device to the TV, regardless of the app. That gives you a lot of freedom to use the app of your choice to help your kids learn. For example, if you have a Samsung phone, you could use the S Memo app to scribble and type notes.
The glow of a big-screen TV is irresistible. Don’t fight it. Use it as an excellent tool for helping your kids stay at least somewhat thoughtful over the long summer break.