Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Computers in the Early Childhood Program

Our agency recently offered a Creative Curriculum training to programs enrolled in our Accreditation Facilitation Project.  We were able to provide copies of The Creative Curriculum for Preschool to each participant, and they have all found the books to be an invaluable resource.  Volume 2:  Interest Areas has a great chapter on using computers in preschool programs.

Did you know that children can learn many valuable skills through using the computer?
Social-Emotional--Children can learn self-direction and problem solving.
Physical--Fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination are enhanced by using a mouse and keyboard.
Language and Literacy--New vocabulary words are learned, and children can practice the alphabet using the keyboard.
Cognitive--Cause and effect, pattterns, and abstract thinking are all enhanced through using a computer.
If you'd like some guidance in choosing appropriate software for your preschoolers, try these websites:
Children's Technology Review
Tech Learning:  The Resource for Education Technology Leaders
SuperKids Educational Software Review

As during any free play activity, teachers should be actively involved in guiding children's play on computers.  Your role during computer time is to observe and respond to individual children.  For example:
Teach the child how to use the mouse to move the cursor, how to insert a CD into the computer, and how to navigate individual programs.

Encourage children's efforts by making comments such as, "Look, you used the mouse to move all the letters into the correct places!  You must feel so proud of yourself!"

Praise children for working well together, taking turns, or calmly switching activities when their time is up.

Ask questions of children, preferably with open-ended answers.  Try, "What else could you draw?"  Or, "What do you think will happen if you click on that picture?"
Computers can be valuable resources in quality early childhood programs when teachers consciously choose appropriate software and engage with individual children as they work.

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