How the Wonky Donkey made me reflect on learning styles…

I have always felt strongly about children (and adults) having different learnign styles and the importance of these being nurtured. This weekend I have been reflecting on a lot of things… as we spent several hours on planes, in airports and just generally waiting around, my delightful toddler spent lots of time exploring my iPad. This is something that I have internal debates about… on the one hand he amazes me with his ability to pick up skills so fast (in just a week he learnt how to unlock the main screen, find the folder with his name on it, find the app that he wanted to use, open it, create a picture and save it to the photo album before closing it to use another app! I don’t remember how long it took me to work out how to turn my iPad on!!)
On the other hand I am such a passionate advocate for natural play, the outdoor environment, simplistic/traditional toys that it seems this is in stark contrast. For what it’s worth, the fact that the iPad kept him happy and us sane on the plane (not to mention preventing the evil glares from other passengers) made the debate fairly one sided!

This morning my Dad showed my little man a youtube video of the Wonkey Donkey (below – you definitely have to watch it…it is really clever)

Over and over we watched this video this morning and after just a few views my 2 year old was reciting most of the words. He engaged so well with the music and the movement (as do so many toddlers) and it got me thinking – would he be this involved with the book? Don’t get me wrong – he loves books and so do I (we must have read Owl babies 3000 times in his short life time!) but as we are becoming such a techonological society I wonder if this will support children to engage with literacy in other ways. For me the thought of not reading books seems crazy, I love getting lost in a book and imagining the people and places, but I know that for visual learners this may not be their ideal – perhaps preferring movies or photographs.

In recent weeks I have watched educators engaging children in the use of iPads in our preschool and toddler room with mixed feelings. I worry that children become too reliant on technology and of course feel concern about screen time for young children, yet I see kids who don’t usually engage with books loving the stories that talk to them and include them.

Getting back to the Wonkey Donkey – a YouTube clip had my child playing with words on the way home in the car…testing out rhyme and aliteration. Maybe he would be doing that if we had read the book – I don’t know. But the music and the images seemed to have an impact on him ….and me! The spunky, hanky panky, cranky, stinky dinky, lanky, honky tonky, winky, wonkey donkey…..

Do you think technology is useful in engaging various learning styles?
Do you have internal (or perhaps external!) debates over the use of such tools?

And most importantly….

Did you LOVE the video clip??



Adam Winchester

Nicole Halton is the co-founder of Inspired EC. She is the author of several early childhood books, an advocate for children's rights and a mum to three.