By Michael Hilkemeijer
One of the principles of early childhood pedagogy which underpin practice and promote children’s learning is being responsive to children. As an early childhood educator, therefore, you need to be responsive to all children’s strengths, abilities, and interests. It involves building on and valuing all these attributes to ensure their motivation and engagement in learning.
Play-responsive teaching in early childhood education is significant as it will build and value a child's existing knowledge, skills and interests.
Being responsive to children’s technological expertise is, therefore, essential in a rapidly evolving digital world. Digital technologies are becoming more embedded and ubiquitous in the environment around children. These digital technologies are having a profound effect on all aspects of people’s lives that they are now becoming “taken for granted”. There is no denying that digital technology is part of children’s lives and identities as learners.
The significance of digital play in early years with the effective use of digital technology in early childhood education has been strongly emphasised in the ECA Statement on Young Children and Digital Technologies. It urges the early childhood education sector to consider young children’s digital rights regarding technology use, Internet access and learning to use recognise digital technologies as a tool that is designed for a specific purpose. It also discusses how to use digital technology in a safe and productive way.
Along with podcasts, our online training for early childhood educators provides you with valuable learning and teaching opportunities to support digital literacy in early childhood education and promote digital citizenship.
Can digital technology support positive learning outcomes?
Through the effective integration of digital technology in early childhood education, young children can learn and develop important skills and behaviours when playing with digital devices. However, as an educator, it will be essential that you support the use of digital technologies with digital pedagogy that enhances children’s physical, cognitive social, and emotional learning and development across the curriculum. Language and literacy development can also be supported through technology integration in early childhood education.
In the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) outcome 4.5 and 5.5 particularly, advocates for young children to learn through digital play in early years education. As mentioned earlier, the ECA statement provides strong evidence of how educators can make key decisions in the use and non-use of digital technology in early childhood education that are responsive to a young child’s technological skills, interests, knowledge, and abilities.
Good quality content can be viewed as an effective tool for teaching and learning with ICT in early childhood education settings by:
- Sparking or extending upon children’s interests.
- Supporting ongoing inquiry-based investigations.
- Fostering children’s critical thinking skills.
- Helping children build important relationships with teachers, family, and peers.
As an early childhood teacher, it is important that you co-view and co-play with young children, thereby engaging in their ‘digital playgrounds’ so that you can monitor and intervene at the appropriate times in order to further develop their digital literacy in early childhood education and so that you be informed of the right pathways for young children and plan appropriately. Digital play in early years settings can involve engaging in many combinations of activities using a range of both digital and non-digital resources. Exploratory play can, therefore, remain at the forefront of programming when integrating digital technology in early childhood education alongside other engaging, hands-on learning experiences across the early childhood curriculum.
Selecting quality digital resources
The eSafety Commissioner can provide you with advice on choosing good online content. It has useful tips for assessing what’s appropriate and beneficial for young children. We have a range of online PD for early childhood teachers that delivers practical and immediately actionable advice on digital pedagogies that you can use when you plan on digital technology integration in early childhood education. They focus on ICT tools in early childhood learning environments that will develop their digital literacy in early childhood education.
Additionally, you buy our teaching resources for kindergarten or preschool depending on where you teach that cover a lot of content on digital technology in early childhood education and the best practices on how to apply them in your teaching and learning environment today.
Don’t forget that you can now listen to our technology in early childhood education podcast to discover an extensive range of high-quality digital resources that can be applied within the EYLF.
ICT in Education Teacher Academy
As members of our Academy, you are invited to join our many online training for early childhood educators. Participants will have the chance to learn at their own pace and time and begin to unpack the ECA Statement on Young Children and Digital Technologies and share ways to effectively integrate digital technology in early childhood education.
You will explore:
- How can you use digital technology as an effective tool for teaching and learning?
- What works and what are the challenges?
- How can digital technology be used with confidence and flair?
You will be encouraged to analyse pedagogical practices in early childhood around the inclusion of media and digital technologies to enhance young children’s learning through a play-based, contextually relevant, cross-curriculum planning approach. Discover ways digital technology can be used to help facilitate meaningful, deeper understandings and promote ongoing discoveries at your early childhood service.