Computers have become common around our children, but parents and early childhood professionals don’t always know how to take advantage of them.
Technology is indeed a tool for our children’s lives, something they are going to use and will need as they grow up.
So, it’s something your child needs to be prepared for.
If you introduce your child to a computer, there are things you will have to do to get the most of the merits Technology can bring.
For example, if you are to teach your child how to use a computer, you will need to learn some new things about the computer yourself. You will have to look into the information that your child can access and as well make sense of every bit of it.
It’s a moment that brings about a number of challenges both to the child and the parent or teacher, and if not properly initiated, you just don’t know how much harm it can be to the development of your child.
But how best can you introduce your child to technology?
A study by the Center for Early Childhood Education at Connecticut state University reveals how technology can help our children if the parents or teachers can bring out their best during this transition.
Dr. Douglas Clements, a SUNNY distinguished professor, University at Buffalo reveals that “computers can really help kids bridge between concrete experience and abstract mathematical thinking at a very young age”.
To this, he believes kids from two to three years of age can abstract very interesting ideas, and can symbolize them at least in spoken language and very soon in written language as well. How does technology feed into this?
“What Technology does is to put multiple representations on screen, multiple representations of these ideas and connecting those representations”.
He believes that these representations are key in helping kids bridge the world there is between concrete blocks and abstract ideas to perform. In other words, it’s all about the meaningfulness of these representations than the physicality of what is.
This is meant to work in way that when kids see objects on a computer screen, it’s as meaningful as what their interpretation would give.
For example, when the kid sees a picture of a dog, that should be as meaningful as the child knowing the dog.
“This is what helps the kids make a kind of connection between concrete experience and the new abstract experience”. He says.
Now, how can we help kids learn better using technology?
Embed computers in rich educational environment
Dr. Douglas says a computer needs to be embedded in a rich educational environment of which it is only a small part. “The computer’s role in a learning environment is just to be one more teaching aide”. It should be the parent or teacher that controls it and picks the educational experience for the kids to make sure they get a connection between their hands-on work and the computer’s objects as well.
Stay nearby to help and interact
He further explains that kids are more interested in computer and are more likely to learn from them if a facilitator is nearby and able to interact with them. However, he cautions that the facilitator; – a parent or teacher, should be wise to be nearby but not at the back of the kids all the time.
“research shows that if you sit there too much the kids don’t learn as much.” he says.
“But if you are available for that question when the kids really do get stuck, so you can go over and talk to them about it and engage them in what is being presented, it increases their learning quite a bit.” He adds.
You have to learn new things yourself.
When someone who is meant to teach children uses a computer, but without enough information, it is bound to manifest in the way kids perform.
If you increased the time you spend around professional development on technology, you are bound to give children the best pathway to using technology.
Start from your strengths and explore
Dr. Sudha Swaminathan, a professor in Early Childhood Education at the Connecticut State University believes that the principles of good teaching are key to integrating technology into early childhood settings.
“The principles of good teaching are what really counts for good teaching.” She says.
To this she emphasizes giving children proper development and open-end activity as key elements to educational technology.
She further reminds us that however much technology has come in place with automation for almost everything, this process requires more human intervention than thought to be.
“If you have just one computer and some software you want infused in your curriculum, go ahead and do that but remember that it’s not the computer, and the computer is not going to replace you the teacher.” She adds.
This means that it is you to bring in the objective that you have for your children and no technology is going to do that. It is still you that will facilitate them to use the technology in an open-ended, creative way that will trigger technological education.
To this, you always have to start from what you are comfortable with (what you know) and then keep on exploring to new stuff.
Therefore, we need to keep in mind that quick-one-shot things cannot be effective when introducing our children to technology. We probably have to commit a little more if we are really going to take technology and computers seriously and do a good job.
As such, a parent, teacher or early childhood professionals need to be an integral part of that whole experience and process.