As we enter the summer months, parents are scrambling to find ways to fill our children’s days with outdoor play, fun learning opportunities and summer trips. If you find yourself utilizing the iPad more often than usual for airplanes and long car rides, you aren’t alone. Parents often ask me how I feel about children using technology. Telling a parent to completely avoid all technology in a digital world is unrealistic. Rather, I encourage them to set parameters and boundaries for both themselves and their children. Finding apps and audiobooks that are meaningful and interesting for both you and your child is key so that you may share these learning opportunities together.
When Retrak recently asked if I would like to try out their earphones, I jumped at the opportunity. My family was traveling to New York City for a wedding and I knew that the earphones would come in handy for the ride. Animalz made traveling a breeze and they also become a prized possession in our home. My daughter hilariously now insists on wearing them even when they aren’t plugged into anything! The best part about these earphones is that my three-year-old can manage using them on her own. They have a retractable cord that makes it easy for her to use properly and take them in and out of her backpack. Since every single sentence begins with “I can do it myself,” independence is of the utmost importance. Furthermore, they eliminate the awkward moment when your child yells loudly over the sound of Frozen blaring through her earphones (not that this has happened to me). The volume on Animalz peaks at 85 decibels to protect young ears. The thoughtful creators of these earphones studied research that showed that the common use of earbuds for young children are causing early hearing loss. These earphones take that concern away with their volume-limiting technology.
As a teacher, I love the idea of using Animalz in the classroom. Research shows that using podcasts and audiobooks has a strong impact on improving listening comprehension skills. Providing a listening station is beneficial for students but can also sometimes cause scheduling difficulties. A typical routine sometimes goes something like this: students disperse into their stations, the teacher is working with one child or a group of children and then the students at the listening station need help with their headphones . They are tangled or not working or need help plugging them into the iPad or computer. The teacher leaves her instruction to help and has lost valuable teaching time. Then in a rush to get to the next station, children stuff their earphones in a bag or bin and the problem is repeated the next day. Animalz eliminates this issue with the retractable cord. Not only do these earphones come in handy for audiobooks but they can also benefit children who use earphones to help them concentrate. Animalz can definitely provide a fun incentive for lots of reading and learning opportunities. My family now owns the bunny and the bear and will be using them all summer long for trips and fun reading activities.