In early childhood education and care, the role of technology is very important as it:
- Enables young children to develop the notion of ICT products as tools for learning and;
- Allows them to identity and understand the everyday use of technology in their lives.
When it comes to technology or ICT, whichever term you prefer to use, it can enhance language and literacy development in early childhood education and care.
ICT can contribute in four interrelated ways:
In this article, you will learn how language and literacy development in early childhood can be achieved with the aid of ICT/technology in early childhood education.
Language, literacy, and early childhood education are of the utmost importance in today's society. Early childhood has increasingly focused on it and emergent literacy skills to prepare young children to become strong readers by the third grade.
Collaboration, ICT and Language Development
Language development in early childhood is essential, however, language learning is complex. As an early childhood teacher in preschool or kindergarten etc, you are ideally placed to exploit technology in early childhood education in relation to young children's excitement and enthusiasm for ICT.
You do NOT need to be highly skilled or have complex equipment to achieve this.
The collaboration of children generates discussions and you will find that the quality of discussion is quite noticeable. The Early Years Learning Framework in Outcome 5 asks early childhood teachers to promote collaborative learning.
Additionally, the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines has references to collaborative work with technologies to investigate or solve a problem. So collaboration is a key early years teacher strategy that will ensure that ICT is collaboratively used for the development of language and literacy.
Software for Language and Literacy development in early childhood
One of the best and most affordable software which you can use for language development in early childhood is the word processor. Why? It makes explicit links between related knowledge, skills and understanding.
Word processing supports language and literacy development at all levels of learning as a wide range of sentence-level literacy activities can be facilitated.
Many also come with text-to-speech capabilities and 'talking' word processors enable increased interaction between a child and a word processor does indeed carry some of the characteristics of conversation, in which the child responds to what is being said.
Open-ended creative software such as drawing and painting programs like MS Paint can generate a lot of discussion as they create images. You can upload images which they can add captions to with it as well.
Teaching Strategies for Literacy in Early Childhood
Strategies used for literacy and ICT capability are the same:
- Use computers for one-to-one work between the adult and the child or for paired collaborative work. This is good for small group discussions.
- Whole-class teaching - you can demonstrate literacy and ICT skills easily using this method with the help of a digital projector.
- Place ICT areas on the edge of the carpeted or group areas.
- When working one-on-one, introduce basic ICT skills of computer use well as providing contexts for a wider discussion. Doing this will provide you with a baseline assessment of their ICT capabilities in determining opportune moments for intervention.
- Ask a child to type out on a word processor a sentence from one of their favourite stories.
- Check to see if they are actually learning the ideas and skills you have planned.
- As children create things on the screen, their talk will be about what is going on and what they are trying to achieve. As the activity is more creative, the language will be more creative too. This will provide you with a good insight into the children’s linguistic abilities and you will be able to help develop their vocabulary and their speaking and listening skills.
- When you work alongside the children on a computer it provides you with a great opportunity to model the effective use of software and management of programs. Most importantly, you will model the appropriate behaviour when working collaboratively.
What are some ideas for ICT activities to Support Language and Literacy Development?
Like I discussed earlier, the activities revolve around the particular ICT tool. So for example, if the children have an iPad or some other tablet computer, they can the camera to take a series of digital images of a task undertaken with a group such as a baking activity.
They can then sort them out into the correct chronological order and stored as a presentation on a computer.
Digital images make an excellent source material for discussion!
What if another activity that you could encourage to do was to make puppets of a familiar story and then use the puppets to retell the story?
You could encourage the children to use the video recorder on the iPad or even if you had an extension cable for the USB to connect to the webcam to record this and be used later for further discussion.
Of course, there are Integrated Learning Software such as Literacy software which is good if you want specifically focus on that itself.
However, they are not ideal if you want to develop their capabilities in ICT.