Home > Early Learning, Environment > Let’s Talk…Technology in ECE Programs

Let’s Talk…Technology in ECE Programs

August 24, 2011

So, if you are reading this blog, then you are connected to technology. Recently, NAEYC called for recommendations to their position statement on technology in early childhood programs serving children ages 3 to 8. They are working in partnership with the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media. The final statement is anticipated this fall.

I am fascinated with technology (partly because I have a spouse who is a technology coordinator for a school district and is constantly bringing home cool “toys” for me to explore and dream about their possible uses in early childhood programs). In this recent article published in the Chicago Tribune titled Finger paints, picture books and iPads — the newest classroom tools for some preschools, kindergartens, early childhood teacher Brian Puerling shares how he uses iPads about twice a week in his preschool classroom. To me, using an iPad several times a week to introduce technology to young children is a nice balance. It enhances the curriculum, without replacing the hands-on learning and social interaction we hold as so important. And isn’t balance something we as early childhood professionals are constantly striving for? We would never advocate a classroom with only books or only manipulatives. Yet, when we as skilled teachers set up the classroom, we seek to reach all areas of development in a way that will peak interest and learning opportunities. And through observation, we make decisions based upon our unique group of children such as when to rotate materials, when to add to materials, and when to redirect or expand upon children’s use of materials.

However, there are those that feel strongly that there is too much screen time already for young children and early childhood classrooms should hold off on their introduction of technology to young children such as the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. I am interested in hearing from you –

· What are your thoughts on technology in the early childhood classroom?

· Is the use of computers by young children different than other technology uses without “screens” such as headphones or CD players or cameras?

· How are you integrating technology into your classroom? How are you making sure you are providing the necessary balance without being disruptive to engaged learning? I know how annoyed I get when I am right in the middle of a creative project where the juices are flowing and the phone rings. I imagine young children feel the same when we set a ticking timer beside the computer to “ding” when their screen time is up!

We look forward to reading as you give your thoughts a voice!

Malisa Rader

Malisa Rader

Malisa Rader is a human sciences specialist that misses the daily hugs and high-fives from little people.

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  1. I think we must have technology tools in our early childhood programs in order to help prepare children for the world they will and do live in. I recently purchased a iPad for my home child care center. The portability of it has been great! The children are not confined to sitting at a desk in order to use it. One of our favorite activities has been to take it outside and listen to the birds overhead. I have an app on it that plays bird sounds, so the children see if they can figure out what kind of bird is near our play yard.

  2. Cathy, It sounds like you have made learning in your early childhood program comprehensive – focusing not just on one benchmark at a time, but bringing together technology, nature, and distinguishing sounds as well as building on activities related to the children’s interest in your care. Well done!

  3. Cathy, I have also successfully used apps for identifying birds and mammals with children. Your suggestion works great with plant identification too. One of my favorite apps is called LeafSnap. This app allows you to use your iPad to take a photo of a single tree leaf and then it provides the tree name and wonderful photos of the tree. Photos include blooms, leaves, bark, buds. What a fun way to introduce children to nature!

  4. I’m also fascinated by this topic, so thanks for writing about it, Malisa! I appreciated some of the words you used: “enhance”, “balance”. I think early educators need to use the same criteria with electronic gizmos that they do with other materials and tools: Will this help meet a learning objective that I’ve identified for this child? Is this a meaningful use of the child’s time? As with everything we do, we need to be intentional. And we need to remember to observe how kids are using these tools and talk with them about the learning experience. Our conversation with a child while he/she is using a technology tool is at least as important as the function of the tool itself – probably more! Thanks again for a thought-provoking post.

  5. Hi Kathy, Observing and being intentional – critical skills for early childhood teachers and yet difficult for those outside our field to see and understand! The best early childhood teachers I know are masters at these two concepts. They allow children the freedom to explore and learn, but are constantly watching and patiently waiting for opportunities to expand, enhance, and scaffold young children’s learning in a non-interruptive way. These are not skills easily taught in a teacher prep program, but hopefully modeled and passed on by experienced early childhood teachers serving as mentors. I appreciate your additions to this post and look forward to our future conversations! Malisa

  6. My friend in Texas is going to college at Lamar University to get her masters in eduacation in teaching with technology. Adding technology to the classroom is an important way to enhance learning. We visit the Eric Carle Museum online and there are many other websites we use pertaining to authors of some of the books we read.
    We use an ipad for books, games, puzzles, coloring, language aquisition programs like first words. It is great!

  7. Hi Charlotte! Thank you so much for sharing with us the Eric Carle Museum online. What fun! I only wish I lived closer and could visit in person and attend some of the workshops they offer for professionals! Malisa

  8. Interesting subject, Malisa. I think early educators need to evolve with the world and with technology being used in every walk of life. So, it should be introduced at an early age so they are not lost later. But there should still be a big emphasis on the old ways.

  9. Skye – You are absolutely right! Balance is the key! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. 🙂