Hi, your idea sounds interesting. Do you might know the Talkies from Toymail? I thought it might be interesting for you to look at :) They are more looking at adult-smartphone-toy-child interactions but maybe some aspects might be interesting for you. I am also interested to learn how you cultivate empathic skills with your innovation? Good luck!
Dear Iliriana, Thank you for your feedback and stimulating thoughts. I developed the idea of the Empathy Exploratorium further and I tried to answer some of your questions.
On your point on how the Empathy Exploratorium will benefit children in their first 3 years of their life: I would like to build a tangible system which focuses on children, parents and families to grow together in their social emotional skills. One part of the system is to help parents develop an empathetic understanding and awareness with each other. This will help them to be a role model and guide for their children from an early age on. The Empathy Exploratorium FamilyKit will build up on this by facilitating and stimulating a culture of empathic interactions and an atmosphere of trust between children and their parents through face-to-face activities. From my research I have learned that it is important to engage parents in the learning process of children as it is an important aspect of their relationship and children’s further development.
On your point on how I was weaving in user feedback into my solution: I tried to do as much testing with children as possible and as soon as I had the first prototypes which were child friendly (not so easy as I learned). I started with gathering feedback on my early prototypes from teachers, kindergarten nurses, parents and experts (Annette Mountford and Jan Casey). This was very helpful as they were able to give me insights on where the difficulties are lying in existing methods such as storytelling which is used a lot in schools. These methods were lacking of exploratory activities which activates children to observe these skills with each other. Right now these skills are being taught on them instead of creating an environment through which they can observe and learn it with each other. I think this is very important in this context because of the significance of face-to-face interactions to learn these skills. These insights were leading to the idea of developing activities that encourage and empower children through exploratory activities and it was great to see that these activities where also attracting adults. Also the testing with children was very insightful as I was lacking a bit of an understanding on how much children's fine motor skills are developed at this age (at that stage the focus was on children from 7-11years). So I did a lot of prototype iterations to find a way which has the least handling barriers for children to reduce the aspect of frustration. At the moment I am developing ideas for children between 0-6 which will focus more on shapes and colours to foster the aspects of empathy like listening to each other and self-awareness.
On your point on how this might be implemented in the US context: I haven't had a chance yet to test it in a US context but if you might be able to connect me with organisations, schools or parents who are open to test it I would be more than happy to send instructions of the simplified activities over and meet up for conversations to learn more about their experience.
Please let me know if you have further questions and thank you for taking your time. My ambition is to be able to empower many people through the Empathy Exploratorium and beyond. It is a great opportunity to be able to push this further through the feedback you provide.
Hi Paul, Your idea sounds very exciting and I was wondering if you might be interested in working together on developing social emotional learning activities for the app? I have a passion for empathy and social interactions and how we can foster these in the time of digitalisation. Would be great to chat! Best, Svenja