By Cyndee Perkins 

Technology, Preschoolers and Learning make a great combination today for building successful futures tomorrow – especially if educators follow the recommendations in the joint position statement presented by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Media.

Three points in the position statement particularly resonated with me. Our Computer Explorers 28-year history has been rooted in these concepts:

DAP: Developmentally Appropriate Practice is key

What are reasonable expectations for a preschooler? What are they physically capable of doing? When are they intellectually ready to explore and experiment using technology? A detailed description of developmental expectations and how they apply to using technology (Ages/Stages Milestones: Children Ages 3-5) are on the Computer Explorers Resource Center. Download it for your review – use it as a basis for discussion during teacher in-service meetings. Think about expectations in your own parenting.

Our classes and teaching methodology for using technology with preschoolers are based on DAP for early childhood. We promote socialization and interaction in our small groups of 3-4 children, facilitated by a nurturing teacher, with time for exploration and shared discovery.

Technology is a tool for learning

Learning HOW to use technology appropriately is important, of course, but WHAT the students learn while using technology is critical. A variety of technology devices broaden the scope of learning – digital microscopes for discovering science, movie cameras and editing for story-telling and language arts, programmable robots reinforcing math, tablets and art apps – are engaging ways to learn and expose the children to a variety of devices. The device needs to enhance the classroom curriculum, and a combination of devices appeals to a variety of learning styles.

I love our new Rainforest Expedition curriculum. Students learn about the rainforest by reading online stories and seeing video clips, looking at tropical bugs and plants under the microscope, programming a robot to find its way from one rainforest to another on a giant floor map, using green screen photography so they can sit in the canopy or swing on a vine in the understory. The final project is to create an original poster about saving the rainforest. Many intriguing devices reinforce the same learning concepts.

Professional development for teachers is critical

Even the younger teachers are often not prepared to use technology in the classroom with the children; the teachers know how to use it themselves for their academic research and personal communication, but are not prepared to use it as an interactive teaching tool. For the students to have quality learning experiences, the teachers need to know how to select the tools, the software and apps, how to create the lesson plans to enhance learning with technology.

We can help teachers choose good software, online activities and apps by sharing our selection criteria (Evaluating Software, Websites and Apps for Preschool Use) posted on the CE Resource Center. Check Page 2 for scoring the criteria.

We in Computer Explorers start with the professional development of our own teachers – with their three-day training of how to deliver our classes, and then with monthly professional development in-service meetings. Now we can share that information and broaden its scope by offering the CE professional development courses: Using Technology in the Preschool Classroom, Creating Wikis, Developing Your Personal Learning Network with Social Media.

To learn more about the NAEYC/Fred Rogers Center position statement on technology, check out the presentation slides from an interesting Webinar with Chip Donohue , a key contributor to the position statement, provided by Early Childhood Investigations.  Two more Webinars are planned.

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