The Kloiber Foundation

Using Technology in Early Childhood Education

Televisions, overhead projectors and calculators were the only technology used in my early childhood classrooms. Programs like Sesame Street or Reading Rainbow were classroom staples, but today’s classrooms have a vastly different set of tools to support learning. We have all heard the warnings about “don’t just sit your kids in front of a screen” and “don’t let the Ipad babysit your child” however, researchers are constantly looking at how these new tools can still play a very positive role in our children’s lives.

With varying reports about what is good and what is bad, where is a parent or teacher to turn? We believe when it comes to the proper use of technology in the classroom, the distinction is this:

• The use of technology by young growing minds must appropriately monitored and guided by parents and/or educators.

• The use of technology must be developmentally appropriate for the age group using it.

• The technology/media must be interactive including software programs where children are engaged in the learning experience and participate by building something, answering questions, or actively responding within the program in some other way.

• Examples of non-interactive media/technology include television shows, DVDs and audio books. While non-interactive technology is okay to use sparingly for entertainment, it is not a substitute for technology based educational materials.

Technology, like foreign language, is best learned (aka easiest to teach) to young developing minds. This week we learned that Kentucky will add 63 new kindergarten prep programs across the state. While this is great news for our educational system, I am hopeful that these programs will also include a plan for introducing young minds to the software, computers and devices they will go on to use throughout their education and also in their work lives.