At the heart of every effective curriculum, is a progressive plan for the learning and development of children in early childhood.
In this member’s exclusive technology in early childhood education resource, you will focus on programming and planning in early childhood settings in relation to the integration of ICT in early childhood learning activities.
Key teacher takeaways include:
- Understanding what early childhood education is.
- Developing an appreciation of what is planning in early childhood education.
- Why is planning important in early childhood education and for technology integration?
- Reflecting on the reason why is early childhood education important (its role in supporting child ICT capability).
- Technology integration lesson planning in early childhood education.
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Professional development goals for early childhood educators:
- Observation and documentation.
- Intentional Teaching.
- Digital play-based learning.
What is Early Childhood Education?
Early childhood education encompasses all forms of education including formal and informal from birth to 8 years of age. What highlights the importance of early childhood education itself is that in terms of a child’s learning and development, providing a strong foundation is essential to child’s future success. This type of education is fundamental to their learning and can significantly shape their life.
What is Planning in early childhood education?
I begin by addressing the question ‘What is planning in early childhood education’ and point out that whatever curriculum that you teach within, planning in early childhood education is about laying the foundations for the child’s future with the curriculum in the mainstream primary education setting.
It is about setting your environment to maximise the opportunities for learning to take place and about shaping your resources into a plan or ‘map’. This would typically include materials, spaces, furniture, other staff members, children, and time.
When focusing on the integration of ICT in early childhood education planning is about ensuring that ICT is viewed as a tool to support and enhance teaching and learning and not simply as a skill to be learned and an ‘add-on’ to the curriculum.
The planning and delivery of learning programme in ECD in this regard enables you to thread ICT imaginatively through all early learning goals thus enhancing the quality of what is being taught and learned.
What is the Planning cycle in early childhood education?
EYLF Planning Cycle
The EYLF planning cycle consists of four key aspects that are highlighted in the diagram below. Each represents a significant phase in planning in early childhood education.
The Cycle of Planning EYLF
- Observe – the process of gathering information.
- Analyse – questioning what learning and development is taking place to make meaning of what has been observed.
- Plan – planning the next steps to continue supporting learning and development.
- Act/Do – putting the plan into action.
- Reflect – evaluating the effectiveness of the plan.
How does the technology integration planning cycle fit into this?
Planning for integration is ensuring that ICT is viewed by young children as a tool used for a particular purpose and it also involves enabling them to understand and identify the many uses of ICT in their everyday lives.
It is the key to making learning effective and exciting in addition, to facilitating learning progression in ICT capability and ICT literacy in young children.
The process of gathering information is accompanied by the method of identifying first what you want the children to learn. This is where the EYLF early learning goals are stressed to be defined for effective teaching. If your approach is to focus on the breadth and the depth of the early years curriculum that you teach within, then it makes good sense to do this at the outset of the ICT activity.
You then need to decide what evidence is needed. Planning here involves considering how the children will produce evidence of their learning.
The most effective way to gather evidence when integrating technology in early childhood education is through continuous observation. This also involves listening and sustained shared thinking and discussions. You can question children and ask them to demonstrate how they went about a task for example in various contexts.
While the children are engaged in ICT activities, informal observations can be used to monitor the ways in which different children respond to an activity. You may notice that some may be confident, and they may be those who could be reluctant to try anything out for themselves and who persistently seek reassurance that what they are doing is right.
For you as an early childhood teacher, it is therefore, important to develop skilled observations of individual contributions to partner work in technology integration in early childhood education.
Analysing your observations is a very important part of your planning and programming in early childhood education. With the help of an individual profile sheet with a coding system this can be achieved when observing a child’s use of ICT.
Effective planning depends on a thorough analysis of the situation at the outset. In addition to using a profile sheet that would record children’s capabilities in ICT, questions that you would consider in analysing your observations:
- What do we know about the children’s existing knowledge, skills and understanding in the subject?
- What has been their previous experience with ICT?
As I discussed earlier, your planning should decide how the children will produce the evidence and as planning is cyclical in nature, you need to continually plan the next steps. Where do you begin?
Having high expectations must extend to the use of technology across various contexts. From your analyses, you can target and focus your next steps.
Why is planning important in Early Childhood Education?
The importance of planning in early childhood education is that plans are the key to making learning effective, exciting, and progressive. Its purpose is to ensure that all children enjoy a balanced curriculum. They need to be responsive to children’s learning, help you to develop and enrich the best opportunities for children and they should reflect your consideration about how children learn.
The key to ensuring that children’s learning is effective, exciting and progressive towards the early learning goals is good planning.
Assessment integrated into the planning of a program in ECD is important because it enables you to partner with families, children and other early childhood practitioners to plan effectively children’s current and future learning.
Whilst the importance of planning based on assessment and observation must be recognised it is important to make provisional, long and medium plans that allow you to gather resources and to consider how best to use the available time.
Every plan is, therefore, a working document that will repay your efforts and time in preparing a path for progression. Strategic planning in early childhood education will help you to develop and enrich the best opportunities for children.
In general, there are several reasons why you need to plan: (Raban, 2010, p31)
- For organisation within the setting, to ensure that you know what you are doing and have the appropriate resources available.
- To make your work visible to colleagues, families and other professionals.
- To be able to discuss clearly what you are doing, as well as how and why, with parents and other professionals.
- To make sure you are developing a wide range of experiences for children through a variety of opportunities, both indoors and outdoors.
- To enable you to respond to each child as an individual, by reflecting on what you know about the children and what you identify for your teaching through documentation.
- To promote learning and development by supporting children’s individual strengths and abilities as well as those of the group.
- To ensure you are maintaining appropriate challenges and stimulation for the children and supporting their active learning, while enabling them to experience success and achievement.
- To introduce new ideas and experiences.
- To help support any interests and strengths in children’s experiences and learning.
Provides evidence of Teacher Practice when applying for Accreditation
If you teach within the EYLF, providing excerpts from a planning for learning and play may demonstrate how you would:
- Utilise ICTs to enhance learning - This would support the standard descriptor 2.6.2.
- Show that you have selected ICT resources to engage children in meaningful learning across a wide range of contexts – this would support 3.4.2 and;
- That have created and maintained a safe learning environment with ICT – this would support standard descriptor 4.5.2
You could even provide evidence of planning to support your observations of children’s technology interests and abilities. All this evidence of planning would support your efforts in progressing in proficiency levels in the Australian Professional Standards for Early Childhood Teachers.
What is the Importance of Technology in Preschool Activities?
The importance of technology in early childhood education lies deeply within the following reasons for its use:
Firstly, young children are already being exposed to ICT tools and as such it already has an effect on them and on the environment and people that surround them.
ICT tools are becoming a ubiquitous component of the physical and social world. It is an important part of the private and work-life of most people, including young children.
This relates to the many opportunities and potential ICT delivers to the teaching and learning of the curriculum.
In early childhood, it can:
- Support and enhance learning and play experiences.
- Support and strengthen your professional learning as an early childhood teacher.
- Support and strengthen your relationships with parents and other people connected to your early childhood education centre.
Many curriculums are now supporting the integration of ICT across the education sector from early childhood to tertiary.
Research shows that the delayed attention to ICT in early childhood has given the sector an advantage that while in the past attention has been given towards getting ICT infrastructure into schools without pedagogical support, the reverse is now occurring.
ICT supports metacognition or ‘learning to learn’. It means knowing that you know and it provides the foundation to what an ICT capable child is.
The use of ICT in early childhood education supports many opportunities for creative development with young children. Through the use of ICT in role plays, they will employ imaginative thinking.
Language development is greatly enhanced when ICT is employed in learning environments. ICT tools and resources such as word processors may appear to be very basic, but remember the power of word processing is in the ease in which children can easily edit and change their writing whilst developing their language and literacy skills.
Children can increase their world knowledge through the use of modern technology such as the Internet.
The many features that ICT brings with it in the learning environment will in the end improve the fine and motor gross skills of children.
Mathematical development is also enhanced as a result of the visual images which computers can provide.
One of the many benefits that will come with the use of ICT in early childhood education is collaboration. This alone helps to build language with children in addition to developing their social skills.
Importance of Planning for Technology Integration in Early Childhood Education
When it comes to technology use, planned experiences in child care and education are essential so that you can build on their home experiences and promote a lasting learning progression in their technological literacy.
Planning for ICT integration in early childhood education is important because:
- to ensure that ICT is viewed as a tool to support and enhance teaching and learning. It is significant that young children develop the notion of ICT products as a tool designed to be applied for a particular purpose when required.
- So that young children identify and find out about the everyday uses of technology in their lives.
Technology in early childhood education refers to planned educational experiences to introduce young children to technology situations and encourage positive technological experiences.
Planning is particularly important when incorporating the use of ICT into the curriculum. As new technologies emerge, you must continually adapt and make changes to successfully integrate them into the curriculum.
It is for this reason, that out of all the curriculum elements, ICT has the greatest amount of change. This means that the skills and needs of the children in your care must be updated as the other skills become outdated.
When planning your ICT provision in early childhood education you will also have to take into consideration the Early Learning Goals as noted in the EYLF. Your provision for ICT will need to show as well where continuity and learning progression exist within it. Continuity describes those aspects of a child’s experiences that stay the same regardless of their age. So in other words, you would be looking at the significant features of ICT that occur on a regular basis throughout a child’s time whilst in your care.
Even in the foundation stage of learning from F-2, there are key points to consider when planning for ICT use. In order for the full potential of technology to be harnessed, you need to remember that it is the student who should always be in control of the technology. Not the opposite.
You need to plan and prepare for this in light of the fact that there will be individual learning styles to need to meet. Key areas such as interactivity, provisionality, capacity and range, and speed and automatic function, should always be an important checklist when considering the advantages that ICT can bring as they form the pedagogical basis upon which your lesson should be based.
Your planning in early childhood education should always be seen as a flexible, working document. Nothing should ever remain static especially when considering the integration of technology in the early years curriculum. The important thing to remember is that every child in your care has the right to enjoy learning through the curriculum and to also ensure you are capable of meeting their needs.
11 Steps for the Curriculum Planning of Tech Integration
Children in preschool and kindergarten, not to mention those in Foundational education should be finding out about and identifying the uses of ICT in their everyday lives in addition to using programmable toys and computers to support their learning.
The following early childhood curriculum approaches will enable you to maximize the use of technology in early childhood education.
Plan for Progression in ICT capability
Progression not only occurs in the classroom with lesson-by-lesson but also from year to year and even from unit-of-work to unit-of-work.
Plan for the continuity of ICT capability throughout the school
This requires more than a single effort of person - it is a whole-school approach and ensures that a child's capabilities in ICT continually build upon as they move throughout their school career.
Plan for Outcomes
For those in Early Childhood, it means ensuring that you are using the EYLF outcomes - particularly 4 and 5 - to plan your learning outcomes. Foundational teachers that may extend to Year 2, should use the Australian Curriculum outcomes in the Learning Areas.
Plan for personalised learning
Individual learning plans (ILPs) helps individual children achieve specific outcomes. You need to ensure that you are clear which learning outcomes you are working towards and why. What does the child understand now? How can you extend this learning? It has also meant being connected to a child's experience of the world.
Plan for ICT tools and Resources
Selecting the right ICT tools and resources is just as important as matching them to the intended learning objective. Factors that you need to consider include the 8 principles outlined in our early childhood online course. How do bee bots help to achieve outcomes?
Plan for the next session
Long-term and medium-term plans need to be considered. For long-term plans it is best to break into four subheadings such as resources, strategies, supporting learning, and organisation. Involve the whole staff because patterns in learning settings can inform your choices.
Plan appropriate ICT activities
Exposure to ICT will not develop a child's capabilities in ICT. Don't reinvent the wheel and remember, copying type finished work into a neat version is NOT an appropriate activity for them.
Plan the Learning Environment
The setting itself will have an impact on how you plan and also how will be able to employ your formative assessment measures in projects.
Plan the assessment of ICT capability
Assessments should always be planned and when determining a child's capabilities in ICT there is no exception to this rule. What method is the ideal way for you to ensure that you don’t just focus on one particular aspect of their ICT capability, mainly techniques and routines?
Plan to challenge a child's ICT capability
Children today are fluent with technology even more than the generations before them. As a teacher, you need to set challenges for students with ICT that will help them progress further in their capabilities.
You mustn't forget about your short-term planning as this can change throughout the duration of the day or even hour. Don't be set in one thing that you planned earlier to ensure that continue to meet the learning needs of children in your care.
By planning for the integration of ICT across the entire early childhood curriculum you will ensure that ICT will be view as a tool to support and enhance teaching and learning, and not simply as a skill to be learned and an 'add-on' to the curriculum.
You can learn more about these curriculum planning in early childhood education by joining our online classes in ICT teaching strategies in early childhood.
You will learn how to optimise tech in learning and play in the early years learning environment today.
What are the technology teaching methods in early childhood education?
- Conduct a thorough analysis of the situation - effective planning calls for this!
- Maximise formative assessment in early childhood.
- Selecting developmentally appropriate technology in early childhood education.
- Employ evidence-based technology teaching strategies in early childhood.
- Promote literacy and numeracy development with technology.
- Encourage creative uses of technology in early childhood education.
- Integrate and understand technology effectively in STEM in early childhood.
- Implement a universal framework for inclusive education in early childhood education and care.
Maximising the use of technology in the early learning setting is important in an ever-increasing online and digital world. With young children entering preschool and kindergarten or even early years primary with a degree of technology literacy about them, it is the opportunity of early childhood teachers such as yourself to build on these home technology experiences through effective ICT integrated curriculum planning in early childhood education.
The basis for any kind of programming and planning in early childhood education is the documentation that provides evidence of children’s learning. In the case study below, it highlights the EYLF programming and planning documentation.
This list demonstrates the importance of documentation in early childhood education:
- Make learning visible.
- Engage children further in their learning process through reflecting on experiences, so clarifying and deepening their understanding.
- Stimulate children through learning from each other.
- Build on children’s sense of identity and their relationships by revisiting experiences and taking pleasure in their learning.
- Share our interest in children’s learning, showing them that their intentions, ideas and views are important to us and their families.
- Put children and their processes of learning at the centre of our understanding for planning for children’s next steps.
- Encourage the development of shared meanings and experiences between a group of children, their families and other adults and lead into further planning.
(Harriet,2009, p. 41)
EYLF programming and planning documentation includes:
Daily dairy including the Reflections of Our Day.
Learning Stories – format used to document learning. It uses ‘story telling’ to describe a child’s learning processes.
Observations – questions that might help you inform your observations of children using ICT include:
- Are they interested in and curious about technology? Do they enter into discussions and make comments?
- Do they experiment with ICT applications, finding things out for themselves?
- Do they show enjoyment and concentration?
- Are they able to use ICT for their own purposes?
- Do they talk about ICT tools and applications and show an understanding of their purposes?
- Are they able to find and start a program?
- Are they able to navigate a program?
- Are they beginning to experiment with tapping out letters using the keyboard?
- Are they showing an awareness of electronic forms of communication, email, Internet, mobile texts?
- Do they know, are they able to find out, what buttons and icons do?
- Do they print or save their pictures?
- Are they able to insert a tape and press the “Play” and “Eject” buttons?
- Are they able to control a toy and make it move where they want?
Portfolios – collected information and samples.
The importance of documentation in early childhood education is that it informs your planning of a child development plan. View it as an important part of your work with children and families as part of a cycle of observation, analysis, implementation, and planning in early childhood education.
Thematic Approach in ECE
What is a thematic approach in early childhood education?
A thematic approach in preschool education is one of the two ways that you can plan to integrate ICT in your early learning activities. It delivers the curriculum through projects or topics and it is a teaching method that organises a subject matter around a unifying theme.
What are the benefits of thematic approach to learning?
The advantages of thematic approach in preschool education are many. It includes:
- Helping children make sense of the world.
- Encouraging the involvement of children in a topic that is relevant to them.
- Providing authentic real-world learning experiences.
- Exposes children to different learning styles.
- Engages the whole brain through active and hands-on involvement.
Studies have indicated (Varun & Venugopal, 2016) that planning for a thematic approach in early childhood education can have an impact on communication skill development in preschool.
How can you plan your thematic approach?
There are several steps that you can take to effectively embed your thematic approach in early childhood education.
Step 1 is to decide what theme will be developmentally appropriate. It can be integrated as with a whole ecosystem for example or based on broad concept such as weather. The theme must always relate to children’s learning.
Step 2 involves designing the integrated curriculum that actually takes a bit of time. Ensure that the curriculum is inclusive in skill processing and boosting the knowledge learnt from the content.
Step 3 is all to do with making sound instructional decisions and this is especially the case with technology integration in early childhood education. A well-balanced integrated curriculum would mean incorporating field visits, and teamwork towards a particular problem-solving.
Step 4 is just about deciding how you would present the theme.
How to put your Plans into Action?
At the heart of our online professional development plan for early childhood educators are our preschool lesson plans. The importance of lesson plans in early childhood education is as such:
- It allows you as the teacher to set challenging but achievable early learning goals.
- You can plan to observe and assess children’s ICT learning and then reflect on your practices later.
- It allows the director of the preschool or kindergarten to monitor class progress.
- A substitute teacher can use your lesson plans to ensure that learning is progressed.
- And when you post it on the wall you allow parents to see what activities the children are experiencing.
Short term planning Early Years
What are your short term goals in early childhood education? Is it to provide children to grow and interact socially, to collaborate with one another, or learn how to self-regulate? If your answer is ‘Yes’, then participating in our Academy workshops is what you need to provide you with the expertise required to achieve goals.
So what is short term planning in early years? It IS about improving your preschool lesson plans in such as way and our preschool technology lesson plans can get you started.
Continuity and Progression in Lesson Planning
In 2006, I presented a conference paper that discussed why is continuity and progression important in lesson planning.
“Effective progression and continuity in ICT capability development in ECE is crucial for the solid foundation and development of student ICT skills. ICT capability is a 21st century skill or general capability that is embedded in the national curriculum from the Foundation Stage through to the end of Year 10 (Level 6 ICT Capability Learning Continuum). The analogy that ‘a house cannot stand without good foundations’ is symbolic of how significant it is for educators in ECE to learn how to ensure that the children in their care are progressing in their development of ICT capability. Furthermore, it is imperative that they learn how to accurately determine a child’s capabilities. By doing so, they will be setting a precedence for everyone else to follow.
For educators in ECE, the learning environment is different to that in primary and secondary classrooms. However, the principles of using ICT in the learning environment remain the same. Planning for the integration of ICT means that you are ensuring that ICT will be viewed as a tool for teaching and learning (Kennington & Meaton, 2009). ICT capability can be enhanced when specific skills are taught and learnt, and the appropriate knowledge has been obtained and understood by the child. When a child has mastered essential ICT skills it gives them mastery and control over the equipment, and this is how educators can help their children obtain the full benefits from ICT. As Potter et al. (2012, p.82) states “planning for ICT means developing an understanding of the ways in which young children think and learn.” Effective planning is the key to ensuring that there is progression already occurring in the early learning setting.”
You can read more about the importance of continuity and progression in lesson planning in early childhood education here.
Considering Educational Theories when Lesson Planning
A good professional development plan for early childhood educators is linked and based on educational theory. By incorporating the educational theories that we have derived for you into your lesson planning you can create a more engaging and effective learning experience for your young children. For example, most of the digital technology in early childhood education that we include in our discussions with you is that which allows young children to construct knowledge. This educational theory is termed Constructivism and is a theory pioneered by Papert and based on the work of Piaget, Dewey, and Montessori. And then there is Vygotsky, the principle and method of technology integration in early childhood education is as follows: ICT is a means to organise paired interactions in the problem-solving process. It serves as an impetus to the elaboration of ICT use in the processes of teaching and learning. This information can help you to structure effectively by helping your children to achieve deeper, more meaningful early learning outcomes.
By continually reflecting on your practice and seeking out new educational theories and strategies, you will continue to improve your lesson plan and provide the best possible learning experience.
Activity plan example for early years:
Language and communication development
Planning Activities for Preschoolers
A key issue that you need to address is ‘What to consider when planning activities for preschoolers?’
When selecting learning activities for early childhood education that integrate ICT resources, it is important to ask these questions:
- What has the child gained in terms of knowledge, skill, or understanding?
- Have the learning activities helped them achieve something they might not have done in any way through the use of ICT?
- Will the equipment motivate the child to learn and have fun while learning?
In supporting the development of ICT capability you might also like to consider:
- What is the educational purpose of the early learning activities – to develop ICT capability, to support learning in another area of the curriculum, or both?
- Will the children need to be monitored to identify opportune moments for intervention to enhance their skills?
- Does it provide children with experience in using ICT as a tool?
- Are there opportunities to observe and assess children’s ICT capabilities?
These are the questions that you need to ask when understanding how to plan activities for preschoolers that integrate ICT in early childhood education. We have incorporated developmentally appropriate activities and learning experiences in our lesson plans for early childhood education.
Continuing on from the key question about ‘How to plan activities for preschoolers’ when integrating ICT, you might like to first:
- Read through your plans in advance – whether if you have created have developed them yourself as in what you would do in our 10 + hour online workshop for preschool teachers, or looking through the preschool lesson plans from our short courses in the Academy, it is worth the effort to look over the lesson plans and write up a supply list so that you will know what you will need.
- Make an inventory of the available technology in our ECE centre – throughout all our online training for early childhood educators, we encourage the integration of the technology that you already have. Make a list of them as they can be working or non-working, toy technologies, and made technologies by the children themselves. As long as they are authentic and relevant to children’s lives today.
- Gather all the materials you will need - there is nothing worse than planning to do a fun activity, telling the children about it, having them get excited about it, and then realizing you don't have what you are after.
- Do a pre-lesson – if it’s a new early learning activity, this is great to consider.
Critically Reflecting on Learning
As with every lesson plan for preschool teachers, ours may not be perfect so it is important for you to critically reflect and learn each day so that you can ensure every child gets the most out of your time. Lesson plans for early childhood education need to educate young learners about the different behavioural values, basic values and construction. Whilst we have developed them in a way that will ensure that the holistic development of the child is prioritised you will need to adapt them to your own circumstances as you know your children best.
Our online professional development plan for early childhood educators involves enabling this process to occur by encouraging the completion of the online training with a submission detailing the critical reflection and discussions relating to the use of ICT resources with young children. This addresses the APST standard descriptor 2.6.2 and 3.4.2.
Developing a Plan for Supporting ICT Capability in ECE
If you have decided to start or intensify the integration of ICT into the play and learning processes of children in your ECE centre then our professional development plan for early childhood educators is what you need. Our lesson plans for early childhood education will support you in developing ICT capabilities.
The professional development goals for early childhood educators that we embed in the online workshops within the Academy include:
- Developing staff potential – there are two educational paths: Discovery and Integrating ICT. In each we build and utilise one’s emergent digital literacy to integrate that available technology in the learning environment. This will develop staff ICT capabilities – a well-developed understanding of the role and potential of ICT for supporting young children’s learning, as well as practical skills in knowing how to se those skills appropriately and making the best of the technology available to them.
- Classifying your position – having read this far in this article, it is most likely that you are an ECE centre which has already taken some steps in order to integrate ICT into its early learning activities. Therefore, the importance of technology in early childhood education is not lost in you. However, if you have decided to make the process more effective and intense, it could be very beneficial to you and your staff to pay closer attention to the analysis of your status, to consider where in this process you are. Our professional development plan for early childhood educators aims to highlight the key aspects of this process for you so that you can identify them.
- Setting up your goals and objectives – your transition should have clear orientation, and you should be able to understand why you want to do it and how; what your goals and objectives are, and what you consider a successful course of the process.
This whole approach to programming & planning in early childhood settings in relation to technology integration in early childhood education will ensure that ICT is given a high priority in the process of planning teaching and learning for young children. Thus providing evidence of meaningful technology integration across the curriculum in a focused approach to a structured childhood development plan in the 21st century early learning environment.
Programming & Planning in Early Childhood Settings
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