Why use technology in early childhood education?
By Michael Hilkemeijer
There are many reasons why use technology in early childhood education.
To begin with, it can be used to support child development and early learning.
This can be achieved by:
- Supporting literacy development.
- Supporting mathematical thinking.
- Supporting problem solving.
- Using ICT to develop planning and controlling skills.
- And supporting children who come from a diverse language background.
However, the use of technology in early childhood education is more than just for learning .....it is also for fun.
Children are curious and they like to ask questions.
For example, they like to tell and listen to stories about themselves, other people and things. They like to draw houses, animals, trees, their parents, fairy-tale personages, etc. They like to make something, they like to play and interact with other people and animals.
When technology is used in early childhood, it can allow them to do that many of these things.
Additionally, it can also deliver content and activities that originate and support strong and productive emotions for children (UNESCO, 2010).
Research suggests (Siraj-Blatchford and Siraj-Blatchford, 2006) that there are four key areas of learning that technology can support child development in. These include:
- Communication and collaboration.
- Socio-dramatic play.
- Learning to learn.
As an example, here is how technology use in early childhood can support language development:
One way in which Technology can support learning and development in early childhood is through its rich contributions to children’s literacy and language development in either speaking, listening, reading or writing.
All of these are interrelated and can make an enormous impact on learning.
The value of these ICT tools in learning and development in early childhood is that it naturally brings young children together to collaborate and discuss what is happening.
Language can be demonstrated in the learning environment when children:
- Use their home language to construct meaning.
- Develop strong foundations in both culture and language/s of their family and of the broader community.
- Experience and share personal successes in learning and initiate opportunities for new learning in their home languages.
- Begin to understand key literacy and numeracy processes.
- Actively use, engage with and share the enjoyment of language and text in a range of ways.
Therefore, your goals as an early childhood teacher should be to:
- Build on the knowledge, languages and understandings that the children bring.
- Actively support the maintenance of home language and culture.
- Model languages that children can use to express ideas, negotiate roles and collaborate to achieve goals.
- Expose children to a wide variety of different languages using ICT and non-ICT resources.
- Encourage children to use language to describe and explain their ideas.
- Model language and encourage children to express themselves.
- Encourage the use of and acquisition of home languages.
There are many ICT activities for Early Childhood that can promote language development.
Word processors that talk is one of the most effective activities which you can use in child development as it allows them to play with language. This is because word processing is closely associated with literacy and language work at all levels and as a consequence has a contribution to make across the curriculum.
Computers in the classroom can offer a print rich environment enabling young children to make banners, signs and other props for role playing.
If used effectively, ICT tools can offer a variety of ways for children to weave together words and pictures. Putting captions onto photos offers opportunities to develop children’s written language skills, while leaving captions off can promote children’s oral language skills.
These are just some ways in which ICT can support children's learning and development.