Play or in particularly, role-play is such a significant element in a child’s learning in early childhood. This is because it engages them in the world in which they live in.
The best types of role-play allows children to make sense of their world and this takes on another dimension when ICT/technology is involved.
For children, they begin to understand the increasingly technological world in which we now live in.
Defining ICT cultures in early childhood education and care
We all live in technological dominated society and as such, children enter your school or centre with a degree of capability in ICT. Experts such as Siraj-Blatchford, have emphasised that early childhood teachers should see this as an opportunity to develop ICT capability and ICT literacy in early years learning environments.
The use of ICT in play is therefore, a significant pedagogy in early childhood for you to consider.
For your school to be able to use ICT effectively it must:
- Have a culture that incorporates a strong belief that using ICT can help children learn, increase the efficiency of the school, and improve the performance of school.
- Be prepared to adopt a culture that prepares its students for change.
The culture of the school is a powerful force in determining the direction of the school. It is shaped by educational leaders who are open to change.
If your school is to move forward with its use of ICT then it is essential that you ensure that the ICT subculture, as it is typically seen as, is embedded in the structure of the school.
The ICT culture of your school or centre should be as such that it supports the following principles (Kennewell, Parkinson, & Tanner, 2000):
- All schools can improve on the education they are offering right now.
- It is important for children to develop their ICT capability as preparation for their adult life.
- The use of ICT can provide a powerful aid to the learning of other subject matter, and this knowledge can be utilised in non-ICT activities.
- New subject knowledge at research level is now commonly generated with the aid of ICT, and thus children’s own processes of constructing processes should reflect this.
Play and Pedagogy with Technology in Early Childhood Education
The use of ICT tools in early childhood enables children to experiment and to take control of them and learn about these objects.
Such pedagogy with ICT can give children confidence to begin to use new ICT tools with which they are less familiar with.
A vital part of this pedagogy is your responsibility that children learn to use the ICT tools appropriately and safely.
Early childhood pedagogy is about you as an early childhood teacher making appropriate decisions in your planning. In relation to integrating technology into play, you need to consider:
- What technology the children have at home;
- Whether they are allowed to use the technology and for what purpose.
This is important as when they enter your learning environment their ICT skills, knowledge and understanding are usually well developed. Some may be already quite technically competent.
- Value and understand these developing ICT competencies in order to help you plan for challenging and stimulating role play experiences with ICT.
- Appreciate the links that children have with competencies at home.
Effective pedagogical planning for role play with ICT should consider these suggestions by Ager (2009):
- The children’s own life experiences and knowledge;
- How the children will be involved in the setting up of the role play area;
- The attitudes of the adults and their involvement in the play;
- The space available;
- Whether it will be indoors and/or outdoors;
- The time available in the setting’s daily routine;
- Whether there is opportunity for the role play to develop over time;
- The quality and appropriateness of the resources.
You need to plan challenging and stimulating role play with technology in early childhood education that builds on what children already know and can do.
- Children are provided with a secure environment with effective and sensitive adult support in which they can take risks and make mistakes;
- Children are given time to explore new technologies and learn to use them before being expected to use them for a common purpose.
The use of technology in early childhood education can support play but it must reflect children's technological world. Well-planned role play with ICT encourages cooperative play and gives them the opportunity for literacy and language development along with numeracy skills all within an environment that allows for safety and for mistakes to occur.
However, effective digital pedagogy in early childhood is about you as the teacher making effective decisions about the appropriate use of technology in earl childhood education learning environments.