Internet provides learning tolls for developing minds

By Clyde Davis: CNJ columnist

We have a granddaughter living with us. Since this person will turn 5 years old in April, and thus be enrolled in kindergarten, the subject of how 5-year-olds learn is of more interest to me than it has been at any previous time. Well, at least at any time since her brother was 5.

It is probably me, not the kids, who has learned more about computers in the four years since that aforementioned brother was preparing to start kindergarten. I say that because, as we are probably well aware, both of these children will spend most of their lives working with computers and their descendants, whatever those may look like.

It was therefore second nature, and not at all strange, when Mikayla, the granddaughter who is featured in this column, expressed a desire to have her own block of computer time, to do some of the things she saw the rest of us doing. I believe this request occurred on her second day after moving in.

This much I had learned: All is not as it seems on the Internet. In letting my grandson look up the topic “raven,” to find out more about the large black corpus coral we had seen while hiking, I could never have predicted that there is an exotic dancer named Raven Kay Lee with a Web site. Until, that is, while standing less than two feet behind him, but with my back turned, I heard “Ooohh- Dada! That’s nasty!” Fortunately, being only 8, he still thinks it is nasty.

What appropriate “favorites,” then, for a little girl whose favorite color is pink, who wants to be Hannah Montana or Barbie, who likes to woodwork with her granddad, and help her brother beat her granddad at football — in other words, a child with eclectic and varied tastes?

Two favorite magazines in our home are Zoobooks and Highlights for Children. Fortunately, it is a rare magazine, nowadays, that does not have a Web site. Thus, we have a good starting point.

Games, songs, videos, and even a feature where you can click the icon and hear a story read are a wonderful way of helping a child be read to by a voice other than your own. In the case of Zoobooks, of course, it is not a story but an article about whatever animal she would like to learn about.

Having gone through a time period when I believed that these sites were confined to the mindless games on the Yahoo or Cartoon Network Web sites, in terms of children’s activities, I was thrilled to see what is now available. In truth, I think our journey through worthwhile Internet sites began when Jason and I found the Modern Astronomy Web site.

Little minds are constantly active, if we allow them to be, and encourage them to grow.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and a college instructor. He can be contacted at: