A quality preschool, such as Little Sunshine’s Playhouse & Preschool®, includes a variety of hands-on experiences that promote cognitive, social, emotional and physical development, all under the guidance of a qualified teacher.
Little Sunshine’s Playhouse® understands the importance of focusing on the whole child. In a technology-advanced and ever-changing world, incorporating technology into the preschool classroom proves to be a powerful tool for helping children develop foundational skills in a number of important subjects.
One question that often arises is how do we balance the educational benefits of digital technologies with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation to limit screen time for young children?
In 2013, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), together with the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media, published a position statement endorsing the use of digital technology for young children:
Technology and interactive media are tools that can promote effective learning and development when they are used intentionally by early childhood educators, within the framework of developmentally appropriate practice, to support learning goals established for individual children.
The key is to pay attention to the quality of digital media exposure, as well as the quantity.
Appropriate use of technology in early childhood classrooms will focus on enriching content that teaches vital skills and concepts, rather than mindless entertainment that displaces offline activities and social interaction.
Keep reading to learn about the benefits and principles of incorporating technology into the preschool curriculum and tips for parents when using digital media at home.
Benefits of Technology in Early Childhood Education
Technology can enhance cognitive and social learning when it supports “play, creativity, exploration, pretend and active play and outdoor activities,” according to the NAEYC.
There are many ways for teachers to incorporate digital content into a structured preschool curriculum such as Creatively Shine™ at Little Sunshine’s Playhouse®:
- Teachers can use technology in a purposeful way that is similar to other learning materials, such as blocks, art supplies, toys, books and writing instruments.
- Technology is one valuable tool for children to record, save, revisit and share what they learn from their lessons each day.
- Digital media can introduce concepts that may not be readily available in person — such as historic events or people, extinct animals or geography.
- Assistive technologies can promote the development of children with special needs.
- Preschool technology tools may also promote an early foundation for digital literacy — in which children learn appropriate ways of using technology for constructive learning activities, rather than for mindless, passive entertainment.
Appropriate Technology Activities for Preschoolers
A quality preschool will follow developmentally appropriate practices when devising its curriculum, planning lessons and selecting learning tools, including technology. Digital tools, like all other classroom materials, must support learning, and not be used as an isolated activity.
The NAEYC offers several guidelines for successfully using digital tools with preschoolers:
- Teachers should be intentional about incorporating technology into any lesson plan.
- Electronic devices must be used in a way that promotes active, hands-on learning experiences.
- Lesson plans should emphasize co-viewing or co-usage alongside teachers and peers.
- Teachers and preschool leaders must take the time to observe children’s use of technology to identify potential problems, evaluate learning outcomes and adapt accordingly.
- Preschools can also use technology to facilitate parental involvement. For example, Little Sunshine’s Playhouse® uses its proprietary LuvNotes™ system to give parents secure access to photos, personalized reports, and classroom announcements.
How Parents Can Guide the Use of Technology in Early Childhood
Besides the use of technology at school, many parents also wonder how they can encourage healthy digital media habits at home.
One early childhood expert emphasizes that technology should be used mindfully and not mindlessly. An important rule of thumb is that the content on the screen matters.
Look for websites that feature engaging characters, encourage guided play and minimize distractions.
Above all, parents using media together with children leads to more learning — this is true of all media, including books, television and computers. Instead of letting your child use the computer alone, help him or her find content that facilitates singing, play and learning activities that can be performed together.
Do you have questions about technology at Little Sunshine’s Playhouse®? Contact a location near you to learn more!