At the heart of every effective curriculum, is a progressive plan for the learning and development of children in early childhood. In an earlier article, I outlined the 11 key aspects to know about developing your curriculum plans. However, by the end of this one, you will learn the importance of planning when using technology in early childhood education.
The importance of planning in early years 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. 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.
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.
What is planning in early childhood education?
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.
When planning the delivery of the curriculum, early childhood teachers traditionally use two approaches:
- Thematic approach
- An approach based on the EYLF.
Technology, Program and Planning in Early Childhood
The Australian Early Years Learning Framework supports reflects and supports programs and planning for technology integration in early childhood education and care settings.
This is evident in the EYLF outcomes 4 and 5 where the use of technology is encouraged in the program and planning of learning activities and play.
It is essential that documentation is used as an ongoing planning cycle so to keep track of every child's ICT knowledge and skills.
An example of program and planning in early childhood which involves technology integration is the use of a programmable toy robot.
The robot will need to go a particular way and young children will need to see the problem from the perspective of the toy and adapt a body-centred system of reference.
There are various different types of documentation that needs to be involved to meet the requirements of the EYLF.
Why is planning important in Early Childhood Education?
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 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, that 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.
Planning your ICT provision in early childhood education will also have to take into consideration the Early Learning Goals as noted in the EYLF.
In general, there are several reasons why 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.
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.