As both a teacher and a parent, I am regularly asked my feelings on the use of technology by children.Should my children have ipads/learning tablets, access computer games, download apps to play with?
My answer is always that
I LOVE technology for children BUT it must be aggressively monitored and controlled by parents
Technology is a fantastic learning tool. In line with all that we do at ED Specially 4U, technology provides another platform for our students to reinforce their learning. Learning with technology offers another multi-sensory approach to learning in a hands on motivating way.
Technology however has the ability to be dangerous. As parents, we need to be incredibly diligent about the cyber safety of our children.
I think learning apps are fantastic
as these can be a secure game that children can access and play without access to the internet. For the preschool and young school aged child, apps are the best method for allowing hands on, motivating ‘technology learning’. These apps can reinforce basic skills based on the apps you have chosen to download.
At this precious young age DO NOT allow your child to access the internet without your supervision. Older children will need to access internet, but this should be well controlled with parental locks and safety. I am not a technology expert in a position to offer advice about these methods – please speak with your child’s school or the local police cyber safety expert to find out more about this. It is imperative that parents become very familiar with the necessary steps to protect their own children.
Just as we don’t let our children navigate life on their own, don’t allow them the freedom of accessing all that is provided on the internet.
Parental lack of understanding is not an excuse!
Parents often ask, ‘should children be introduced to technology before they start school? Will their child be left behind if they have not accessed technology at an earlier age?’
Technology actually requires a lot of skills to navigate which are in line with the preschool (especially ED Specially 4U program) curriculum. Technology requires our children to focus, concentrate, manipulate and control finger movements (fine motor), follow a set of instructions, be able to cognitively understand….to name a few. These skills are being taught at the preschool level. Once your child starts school, they will be taught all that they need to know about technology for their learning. Do not feel pressured to buy your child the latest product on the market so that they are prepared. They will be taught the necessary skills at school.
As a parent, have I allowed my own children to access technology?
My answer is a very personal, yes. I value technology for learning. I use technology as another resource to reinforce learning concepts and I love the motivation that technology provides. People who know me, know that I have both older and young children. Within the space of the 12 year age gap, I have watched technology change dramatically for children (not to mention adults!) Learning is so fun and easy with technology and there are so many good quality apps for children to reinforce their skills of number, shape, colour and letters. Even simple nursery rhymes and songs are presented in motivating ways which assist children to be excited with their learning.
While I endorse the use of technology as a learning tool, this is only one element of their learning.
I passionately believe in hands on learning and learning through exploration and play. Technology is only one tool to provide this. I always teach new concepts via methods of direct instruction and exploration, this is then reinforced with tangible objects (that can be touched, manipulated and explored). Technology is not the tool that I use to teach new concepts and is only one of the tools used to reinforce learning. Learning is about developing the whole child.
Make sure that when you are choosing apps for your children, be very conscious of the language that is offered in the app. As Australians it is very important not to access apps with a different accent. This is especially important for literacy and letter learning as the pronunciation is such an important element of learning to say/read then write the sounds.
Another pitfall of technology is the time that children remain on technology. Screen time should be monitored closely. No child should be sat down with a technological device and left for more than 15 minutes at a time. A child’s attention span is only 3-5minutes per year of age of your child, (ie. a 2 year old can concentrate for approx. 6 minutes on a task, a child entering kindergarten should be able to concentrate for 15 minutes on a task) Parents need to be conscious that their children’s development is not being hindered by using technology as a babysitter. Children need to play in gross motor activities for 1-2 hours a day, at a minimum. They need to be provided with opportunities to develop their imaginative play skills. Children need to play. THESE ARE ESSENTIAL BUILDING BLOCKS to learning.
As we know, our preschool aged children are learning their essential skills and foundations for lifelong learning. Offering technology is one of the tools which can reinforce their learning.
For the Love of Learning