The role of technology in early childhood education is significant in the knowledge society where young children enter the early years learning environment with varying degrees of ICT capability.
ICT can be used by:
- Children to play and learn with;
- Children and early childhood teachers to use together to scaffold learning;
- Children and early childhood teachers to document and reflect on learning experiences and to share learning experiences.
Why have an ICT Policy?
There are several key reasons why an ICT policy document is important to the early childhood learning setting. All of the following stem from the above facts about the role of technology in early childhood education.
- To guide planning.
- To inform teachers what is expected of them and children.
- To identify resource needs.
They also help to demonstrate a school’s intentions for children’s learning with and in ICT. Through a whole school policy, effective progression and continuity in a child’s ICT capability can take shape.
The ICT policy should reflect what is needed to extend children’s ICT capability and ICT literacy in their early childhood education.
It should also reflect elements addressed in the Statement on Young Children and Digital Technologies.
Another aspect that you need to address in the ICT policy for early childhood education is the explanation of how the school or centre will meet the national curriculum guidelines for ICT in the Foundation stages of Level 1 and 2.
Additionally, this will also need to contain the ICT experiences you would expect children to have in the Foundation stage and how this will address the goals of the Early Years Learning Framework.
There are two outcomes that features the use of ICT in early childhood learning experiences. Outcome 4.4 is to do with children being confident and involved learners when they use ICT to investigate and problem solve. This is promoted by early childhood teachers when they develop their own confidence with technologies. Outcome 5.4 does focus more on ICT use by children and therefore, there are many examples when this is evident in the following ways:
- Identify the uses of technologies in everyday life and use real or imaginary technologies as props in their play
- Use information and communication technologies to access images and information, explore diverse perspectives and make sense of their world
- Use information and communication technologies as tools for designing, drawing, editing, reflecting and composing
- Engage with technology for fun and to make meaning
Provisions for the use of ICT in the teaching and learning of literacy and language development in early childhood also needs to be included.
For example, one of the main goals of early childhood teachers, whether they be in preschool or kindergarten, is to establish a baseline for a child’s ICT capability by seeking answers in relation to a child’s use of ICT at home. Thereafter, develop a plan to promote these capabilities in learning and play.
If early childhood learning environment is part of a P-6 or P-12 educational landscape, then the ICT policy should also form part of the whole school approach to developing ICT capability and ICT literacy starting in primary school.