Early Connections: Technology in Early Childhood Education
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In kindergarten children and teachers are working on readiness skills and early literacy experiences. Even in kindergarten children may benefit from technology if care is taken that computer (and other technology) use does not replace time spent on important foundation skills. When used properly, computers and other technology can help children learn, both in short, simple lessons and as an integral part of larger, more complex, projects. Including technology as a part of classroom activities can motivate students and allow them to learn and share their understanding in a variety of ways.

Children receive the greatest benefits from technology in the classroom when:

  • The lesson or project is directly connected to the classroom curriculum
  • The technology allows for active learning and discovery
  • The lesson or project is open-ended, allowing learners to proceed at their own pace
  • Technology is applied to real situations for a real purpose
  • Computers are part of classroom activities, rather than set apart in a separate room or lab

Language Development and Emerging Literacy

Conversations that take place between the children as they work contribute to language development. In addition when adults write down children's stories, from children's dictated words or from a tape recorder, children see how the spoken word can turn into the written word. These activities integrate all aspects of literacy: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. They help children develop their storytelling ability and an understanding of how sound connects to print. Children learn that:
  • What they say can be written down
  • What is written down can be read
  • What others say can be written down
  • They can read what others write down
Tape recorders and computers can be resources for helping children develop language and literacy skills, including beginning reading and writing.

  • Young children who cannot yet read or write can listen to stories being read and record their own.
  • Children can create their own stories on the computer with the help of an adult, using word processing software.
  • A child can draw a picture (on paper or on the screen), then dictate a story or caption to an adult or older child to type into the computer.
  • Physical experiences are important for children's development. Have them build and create, then use a digital or video camera to take pictures of the creations and display them on the computer. Children can write or dictate or record captions for these photos, or use voice recordings to tell about their work.

Emerging Math Skills

Patterning: Children can use patterning or drawing software to practice seeing relationships and predicting what comes next in a series, helping to build a concrete understanding of math. Many programs can be used in conjunction with building blocks, patterns in music, or math manipulatives such as pattern blocks or tiles.

Classification: Learning to identify and sort objects by their attributes is basic to both science and math. Classification software encourages children to group objects by attributes such as size, color, and shape as well as to create groupings of their own objects.

Seriation: Objects can be manipulated on the screen in much the same way that physical objects can be ordered by size in the classroom.

Numerical Relationships: Software programs can help children master the concepts of “more than,” “less than,” and “the same as” and learn this necessary skill for understanding mathematics.

Calendar: The daily calendar is part of many kindergarten classes. Some children's software includes a template for making a calendar, and provides an additional way to build awareness of how time is measured in days, weeks, and months.

Graphing: Build a graph in the classroom with objects, such as shoes or candy wrappers, then put the information into a spreadsheet or graphing program. This helps children make the connection between the physical items and the symbols, and to reinforce the concept of graphs as visual information.

Share with parents that setting limits and managing media time is essential. Too much "screen time" (computer, TV, videogame and video) can lead to increased distractibility and difficulty attending to extended activities. A good recommendation is one hour per day of total screen time for preschoolers, and two hours for elementary school children.

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