We live in a digital age, and as technology becomes more embedded in our everyday lives, educators wonder about best practice when it comes to using technology with young children. Should technology be in our classrooms when children are spending less time outside being active? How do we as educators use technology when sometimes the children we are teaching speak the language of technology more fluently than us? Can technology be used to enhance the learning experience in our classrooms?

Technology can support learning and relationships

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In 2012, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), in conjunction with the Fred Rogers Centre for Early Learning and Children’s Media, released a joint position statement addressing these questions. According to the NAEYC, when used wisely, technology and media can support learning and relationships (NAEYC, 2012, p.1).

Here are the key points that are outlined in the document:

  • Balance interactive media and technology with other authentic, hands-on learning experiences. The interactive media should extend and enhance learning, not replace creative activities that encourage authentic engagement with people and the world.
  • Limit passive technology and screen time (DVDs, TV etc) for children under the age of two years.
  • Ensure there are responsive interactions between the child and caregiver when using interactive media with children under the age of two years. Encourage communication about the process and what’s happening, and make it a shared experience.
  • Carefully consider recommendations from public health organizations when deciding how much technology to use in the classroom. Consult with and involve families and school communities when making decisions too.
  • Access to technology and interactive media in the classroom should be equitable and it should promote digital citizenship. Teach children to be safe, positive and responsible when using technology.

Use technology in creative ways

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Technology and interactive media are one small piece of the early childhood curriculum, and they will never replace the art easel, books, dress-ups or messy, discovery-based play in the classroom. But, they both have the potential to enhance the learning experience of the children if they are used in creative, intentional ways.

The key is for us as educators to continue reflecting on what, how, and most importantly why we include these things in our classrooms.

 

This article was written by Wenone Hope (Blue Mountains, Australia).

Wenone was born and raised in the farming region of Wagga Wagga, Australia. She now finds herself teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) in the Czech Republic.  A teacher for 12 years, she has a background in Early Childhood Education and has also done postgraduate studies in Special Education and Early Intervention.  Wenone is an Early Childhood Consultant at Lipa Learning, and has also been a Preschool Educational Leader in the Blue Mountains and a Primary School Educational Director in Canberra, Australia.   She’s an advocate for inclusive education, where diversity in the classroom (and life!) is celebrated.  When she’s not in the classroom, she’s out in nature, playing roller-derby, traveling, or enjoying a good book.