Q: What do you think of e-flashcards? Or should I stick to hard copy flashcards?
To answer this question, we need to first explore the primary objectives of flashing cards to our children.
To me, the primary purpose of flash cards is to activate the right brain (let the child love learning voluminously, read fast, think fast, have many impressions of images and words) and not to stuff knowledge into him.
Really, I’ve flashed thousands of cards and don’t bother whether or not my little kids really retain the information. The more relaxed I am, the more they enjoy learning, and the more they eventually learn and retain.
(This is as opposed to: the more uptight I am about their learning outcome, the more stress they feel, the less effective their learning.)
The right brain learns best when it’s based on a strong relationship with parents. Therefore, it needs real-life interaction with parents, in a personal and fun way.
Advantages of hard copy flash cards over e-flashcards
- very interactive: Often, when I flash cards, I’d vary my selection, tone, speed and language while observing my children’s behaviour. Flashcard session is the time my kids watch me dramatise, and they love watching it as if it’s a magic show.For example:
- fidgety when seeing random dots: use a new language / dialect (They were very amused when I started using Cantonese to flash math dot cards yesterday!)
- wants to start moving: pause for a while, sing a song with hand / body actions. Resume flashcards session
- watch your lips when the card is flashed. This is especially so for kids who need specific help to learn their pronunciation. (One of my boys is like that.)
- no distraction from whipping out a gadget during learning time (some children may want to press the buttons, or demand other e-activities after the first activity)
- no glare (from a screen) for a young child’s delicate eyes, even if it’s for a short while every day
- able to play interactive “Which one” or matching games straight after or in between topics to maintain the child’s interest (child gets to move and touch the card)
- link to extension activities:
- after the flash card session, we may discuss one to a few cards (either my choice or their choice). Sometimes, they may even bring items from the house to match what’s on the cards.
- From the time Vee was about 5 years old, I started leaving a few topics of flash cards (that I’ve flashed to him before) on the learning shelves for him to explore and continue learning on his own during his free time. (Not for babies and toddlers who may mis-handle the cards.)
- Now that Vee is 6+ years old, we do more purposeful learning. So I may make simple flash cards for his weekly spelling / ejaan / 听写. After flashing to them, let him practice writing them ON the card. Similar to sandpaper writing, but without the sandpaper feel. He’s old enough to follow the strokes. Then practice on paper. This method gives him good retention. (Credit goes to my good friend, FT, for this idea.)
- see your handwriting and drawings: I use a thick marker pen to write / decorate the title cards, which takes very little time. They watch me demonstrate writing in large font and naturally want to write or doodle too.
Challenges of hard copy flash cards & how to overcome them
Yes, even though hard copy flash cards are very beneficial learning materials, I fully understand the challenges of making, buying and storing them. Each of us have our own constraints, so here are some ideas on overcoming them:
- flash cards need physical storage:
- storage management (optimise use of space, prioritise space use)
- exchange cards with like-minded parents.
- cost of ready-made hard copy flash cards:
- set aside budget for high-priority sets
- DIY / exchange cards the rest to supplement
- DIY flash cards need time & effort:
- exchange soft copy cards
- get printables
- invest in printer that can print directly onto cards (save time on cutting and pasting)
- cost of DIY flash cards ink & material:
- exchange DIY cards
- invest in ink-efficient printer that can print directly onto cards (save on paper & ink cost)
- need time to refresh flash cards set every 1-2 weeks:
- extend the usage span of cards: flash the cards in a new language every few days or every week. (For example, I can flash the cards in English / Chinese / Malay / Italian / Cantonese / Hokkien, depending on the topic.)
- time management (set aside a specific time slot every 1-2 weeks to refresh materials)
Of course, whether to use hard copy flash cards, e-flashcards or a mix of both is completely your choice. Most importantly, parents and child are happy, then he/she will learn well. Hope you’d find the above sharing useful. Happy “flashing”!
Photo: In case you were wondering, the boys weren’t watching flash cards from an iPad. 6-year old Vee was solving an online math question while Jae was watching.
P.S. Need more ideas on teaching your child? Join my e-workshop or live home practice intensive workshop.
P.P.S. Mark your calendars: 6 Sep 2015 (KL) or 6 Dec 2015 (Singapore). A NEW intermediate workshop would be launched. *excited*