Monday, July 20

CHALK TALK: introducing preschoolers to technology



These days, it’s easy to think of children as natural digital citizens. Take a look around and you will likely see kids of all ages masterfully using a smartphone or tablet on their own. However, children, especially those enrolled in preschool through early elementary school, need parental guidance to make sure they are using technology safely and that is not keeping them away from other beneficial activities.

Parents can help their little ones embrace digital technology as an effective learning tool without getting too caught up in non-educational gaming and passive viewing. Here, Dr. Rebecca Osborne, Technology-Enhanced Curriculum Specialist for Fairmont Private Schools, explains how to properly introduce tablets, smartphones, and other devices to young children.

What can parents do to foster technology skills in their preschooler, particularly in the areas of smartphones, tablets, and laptops?


It is important for students to be multi-literate.  Introduce your young children not only to tablets and smartphones, but also to laptops.  Teach them keyboard skills, not just “texting” or typing on the tablet using the small touchscreen.  Learninggamesforkids.com offers tools for developing typing skills.  Parents should also foster an understanding of when technology is useful, and when it is a distraction.  Writing with pen and pencil should not be replaced by technology.  There should be a balance between digital and “analog” activities.  There are also many toys that mimic the effects of touchscreen devices without being connected to the internet. 

How can parents ensure their young children use technology appropriately?

Preschoolers should always be given a minimal amount of screen time – no more than two hours per day.  Monitoring the child’s screen time activities, as well as using parental controls and restrictions help ensure proper use of technology.  I recommend the following educational apps – “AlphaTots,” “Doodle Critter,” “Elmo Loves ABCs,” “Elmo Loves 124s,” and “Peg + Cat,” which are interactive, educational, and fun. Passive screen time, like watching videos, should be kept to a minimum, but PBS Kids is a good place to start for educational videos.

What can parents do to foster an early respect for good digital citizenship?


Set an example of good digital citizenship for your children by joining them in using technology at home in both educational and recreational settings.  Parents should discuss the content that their child is accessing and talk about safe and unsafe usage of electronic devices.  Again, parents should closely monitor their child’s technology-related activities.

Make sure your preschooler balances screen time with toys, unstructured play, books, and friends. Don’t forget the wonders of Play-Doh, coloring, puzzles, and other toys, which still play an important role in a child’s well-rounded development. Outdoor physical activities are equally important for a child.

Playing outside is vital for growing in confidence, fostering social skills, gaining appreciation for nature, understanding rules and authority, and mastering physical and fine motor skills. A healthy blend of technology with play and traditional learning goes a long way in building a strong foundation for achieving academic and personal success in elementary school and later grades.

See HOW TO: managing a child’s screen time, A to Z: teaching children to be good digital citizens, and NEW AND NOTEWORTHY P-8 educational apps recommendations for more ideas and suggestions to help ensure safe and rewarding screen time engagement for your child.

Contributed by Doug Fleischli, Fairmont Private Schools 
Image by Examiner.com














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