Many of our readers know that we champion the appropriate and intentional use of technology in early childhood. We are also champions of play. Technology and play can co-exist in balanced early learning environments. In talking with teachers and parents of young children, there are two primary concerns that come to light:
- Teachers are afraid to use new technology in their classrooms as they have little or no training in just HOW to use it.
- Parents are concerned that young kids need to PLAY rather than spend more “screen time” in childcare or in the classroom.
FEAR, for teachers, is natural and very common. As with anything that is new, until teachers have an opportunity to play with technology, learn from others, and gain confidence in using technology, fear of the unknown is abundant (this can be true for our students/children, too). Parents fear that time for PLAY will be reduced to accommodate more “idle” activities if technology is offered within childcare or early learning classrooms.
As educators, it is our responsibility to help parents make the distinction between integrating technology INTENTIONALLY FOR LEARNING and using technology for recreation or entertainment purposes. Within a play-based learning environment, the integration of appropriate technology can be FUN while helping our children gain important skills and the confidence to navigate ever-changing forms of technology with ease.
What is meant by the INTEGRATION OF TECHNOLOGY?
Most parents were sent to a “computer center” or to the school’s library to learn about computers and technology. With today’s mobile devices, teachers can utilize technology within the classroom and have the flexibility to incorporate technology into DAILY activities.
For example: We have made QR codes (see photo above) of all the online books our children like to read. Our children scan the QR Codes (made with pictures) to arrive at the book they wish to read (or have read to them). When the children scan the QR Code correctly, it is almost magical that the book begins to load. It is a FUN way for our students to utilize technology and engage in reading.
What is meant by INTENTIONAL LEARNING?
Technology in an early education environment is not used as a “time-killer” or “babysitter” for passive learning. Technology in early childhood is implemented to engage the children and provide opportunities to promote active learning.
For example: Our kids adore all of the Shoe the Goose Apps. They are FUN apps that teach important touchscreen skills. The children learn HOW to touch a mobile device and what part of their fingers will work to make something happen, how to drag and drop items, how to tap, how to scroll, how to select different activities, etc.
Each year, students in our district have an opportunity to participate in a Young Authors Writing Opportunity. Our 6 yr. old son used the Cookie Doodle App to help with his book’s content and illustrations. The available technology was merely a springboard to the creation of a larger literacy project that he LOVED making! All of the Shoe the Goose Apps offer the ability to save photos of the creations children make within the Apps. It is a great way to engage the children in storytelling and writing!
There are many wonderful educators, early childhood leaders, and early learning organizations advocating for the appropriate and intentional use of technology.
If you are a parent or educator who would like to learn more, please take time to explore the links below.
For MORE suggestions on how to use technology intentionally with young learners at home or in the classroom, visit The Desktop and Beyond!