Is your child ready for a LeapPad?

This is a review of the LeapPad Ultra

If you have been following the blog for a while you would know that I have a strong relationship with the PR for LeapFrog. They have given us countless opportunities and learning toys for both the kids. They have taken the time to get to know each of my children, to read the blog and to know my opinions on using technology as a form of learning.

My husband I made the decision that we would not introduce any screen time learning until Tom was 3 years old. Sure, he had tinkered on various devices – phone, ipad and laptop but he definitely had nothing he could call his own.

When the LeapPad Ultra was sent to us for Tom’s birthday, we were prepared. We had discussed what we would do, how we would limit his usage. We could see that he could become ‘hooked’ just from watching him use our phone etc.

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But we were also excited to see what he could achieve, what kind of learning would this unlock for him? And how will he learn to navigate something like this?

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There’s no denying it. He loves it. He wants to play it ALL THE TIME. And he has learnt so much! That’s not LeapFrog’s ‘fault’ ┬áthat he loves it by the way. Obviously they want to create something kids are going to want to play. It was hard for him to understand that we were limiting this one on him. He can play with any of his other toys whenever he likes, so why not this one right?

We restricted it for a number of reasons, but the main ┬áreason was this: Whenever he was idle for 30 seconds he wanted to reach for his LeapPad. And parents, that will kill imaginary play, discovery and communication. I’ve seen it in kids that hit primary school who have been babysat by their Wii or any other electronic device. It is great, in moderation. You are the parent, you set the limits.

And hey, he is 3 so setting the limits is easy. Out of sight, out of mind. He doesn’t know where the LeapPad ‘lives’. I get it for him, usually in the afternoon during some downtime. It goes back to its hiding spot at night.

If I don’t want him to have it, I just tell him “The battery’s flat. Oh well!” and I offer him an attractive alternative. He can’t resist going outside together or playing trains.

We will not take it with us when we are at restaurants or on a short drive. Because no. My kid loves talking to others and I don’t plan on changing that.

The LeapPad really is fantastic and I’m glad he has it and not an ipad. There are soooo many dodgy learning apps on itunes and so much to filter through. But the LeapPad apps are easy to find (0ver 400 in the library) and you know what you’re getting is quality, well researched apps made by professionals. There are plenty of games in the age 3-5 bracket game that he can play.

I think it’s important that a child’s speech and communication is developed before introducing anything like this. Tom’s speech has excelled, and he can listen to the instruction and he often repeats things as he plays which helps him reinforce his own learning.

 

The hard case on the LeapPad is nice and sturdy and protects the screen, as does the padded carry case, making it perfect for rough toddlers. The loading time on the LeapPad Ultra is good and Tom can swipe easily between screens without any issues. It has 8GB storage and very parent friendly WIFI with password access only, which makes it easy to get in there and download new apps.

The games he has been playing have been centred around learning his letters and numbers, I love hearing him repeat things as he plays. So very cute! The starting song is around getting ready for preschool and he always sing along “We’re off to pre-school, we’re on our way!” so I think I’ll be calling 3 year old kinder pre-school to help make that link!

All in all, the LeapPad has been a great learning addition to Tom’s technological play and I did feel he was ready for it. I hope that by limiting his play at this age, that he will always have the skills to find an alternative and to strike a balance between types of play. I wouldn’t want him playing Lego all day, every day. The same goes for the screen time. Staying in control and offering alternatives is important as well as embracing technology as an effective learning tool when used correctly and in moderation.

Have your children got a LeapPad or Ipad yet or are you waiting for a particular age? Do you limit its usage?

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