By Michael Hilkemeijer
One of the best approaches for when integrating technology in the kindergarten classroom is when early childhood teachers effectively plan to ensure that ICT is viewed by children as a tool to support and enhance teaching and learning in early childhood education learning activities.
Integrating technology in the kindergarten classroom involves the use of computers and other ICT tools and resources. Each one of these should enable children to have full control over and develop their ICT capability.
Technology in kindergarten classrooms include:
Through the use of computers, children not only develop important routines and ICT techniques in ICT capability such as keyboarding skills and functions, but also have access to generic applications that further promote the development of ICT capability such as Word Processors, databases, spreadsheets and drawing and painting programs. They also access to the Internet and the WWW at their fingertips where they can look for things of interest to them such as pictures of animals or people to learn and discover.
With tablet technology in kindergarten such as iPads comes benefits such as having access to digital cameras and recorders. Children can move around with them taking photos and videos of events and objects. Each one can then be uploaded onto creativity apps that allow for video and photo editing. This is good for children who may find expressing their thoughts in words difficult. A visual story can be created by them to communicate their story. There are also many apps that are educational but must be chosen carefully to ensure that they meet the requirements needed for learning and development of children in ICT capability.
While this is a form of kindergarten technology, IWB does not actually aid in the benefit in the development of ICT capability. They can be used in conjunction with applications that can, however, such as MS Word and drawing and painting programs. There are many different types out there that can transform your kindergarten technology lessons.
Beebots is just one example of technology in kindergarten that allows children to learn how to code or program. If you take them outside it would be good to take the mat with you as they don’t go too well on rough surfaces. Children can learn how to direct them where to go and they can create stories and other creations to go with the beebot.
Having non-working technology in kindergarten classrooms can bring many benefits to your kindergarten technology lessons. They can be taken outdoors without fears of them breaking and when they are incorporated into role play it can serve to promote the learning of ICT in their lives.
The How-To of Tech Integration
Earlier I pointed out that the best technology in kindergarten classrooms are those that develop ICT capability. However, it goes much further than this as this can only be achieved by making sound instructional decisions to employ evidence based teaching strategies in early childhood to promote the notion to children that ICT is a tool designed for a specific purpose and to withdraw from them the gesture of taking technology for granted.
ICT capability can be developed in early childhood learning activities if technology in kindergarten classrooms meet the following requirements.
- Give children full control.
- Promote a higher level of decision-making on behalf of the children.
- Intellectually challenges them and;
The importance of technology to the learning of young children comes down to ensuring that they understand the role and potential of ICT in their lives and that they become proficient users of ICT.
Understanding how to use technology in kindergarten classrooms begins with your ability to ensure that this occurs.
Digital Role Play with ICT
When you incorporate ICT seamlessly into role play, you can open up a whole range of opportunities for learning. It is an opportunity for children to learn without failure.
It is important that you plan challenging and stimulating role play that builds on a child’s technological literacy and ICT capabilities. You need to provide them with a secure environment with effective and sensitive adult support in which they can take risks and make mistakes without fear of failure. So they need time to explore new technologies and learn to use them before being expected to use them for a common purpose.
For example, you may give them a digital camera – stand-alone, or from a mobile device like a tablet computer or mobile phone – allow them to use it for their own purpose before you actually step in. Give them the chance to take photographs of their own choosing. You could also set up a simple scenario that allows them to explore the use of the digital camera. Such teaching strategies develops and builds their confidence and competence to use it successfully.
Integrating technology in the kindergarten classroom is largely about the digital play, but you can support them by asking open-ended questions. Such prompting of questions provides children with a tool to understand how the technology works and why we use it.
“What would happen here if I pressed this button?”
“How can we make this programmable toy more here?”
“Can you find a way to record a message?”
“What could we use the walkie-talkie for?”
“How does the metal detector work?”
You need to involve yourself in children’s discussions and encourage them to tell each other what they have found out or describe their experiences. Teaching strategies like this facilitates a child’s reflection on their knowledge and practice on new vocabulary.
It is essential that you as the early childhood teacher provide a positive role model for them when integrating technology in the kindergarten classroom.
Using technology in the kindergarten classroom not about simple exposure to it. It is about broadening a child’s technological literacy and ICT Capability with high impact teaching strategies with technology in the early learning environments that include embedding formative assessment strategies to make informed and sound instructional decisions.
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