Education and Kids
Integrate Computers in the Early Childhood Curriculum
Technology Helps Children With Language Impairments
As technology becomes more accessible to early childhood programs and
computer software becomes more user-friendly, early childhood educators have a
responsibility to examine its impact on children and prepare themselves to use
it for all childrens benefit.
Here are some tips for professionals in evaluating computer programs, which can
be used -- like any other learning tool -- in developmentally appropriate or
- Early childhood professionals must apply the principles of
developmentally appropriate practice and appropriate curriculum and assessment
when choosing technology for use in their classrooms or programs. Even
technological learning tools must be appropriate for the age and experience of
children in a particular group. Software that is little more than an electronic
worksheet does little to increase childrens understanding of concepts.
- Used appropriately, technology can improve childrens thinking
ability and help them develop good relationships with peers. Developmentally
appropriate software engages children in conversation and creative play. It also
helps develop childrens problem-solving abilities. Ideally, computer
software should be designed to grow with chil-dren, offering more challenges as
they learn new skills.
- Technology should be integrated into daily learning activities.
Computers should not replace or disrupt existing program routines. This can be
accomplished by locating computers in the classroom rather than in a separate
lab. Teachers can choose software to further enrich the every-day curriculum,
and bridge the gaps between different subjects, like music and math.
- Teachers should work for equity in access to technology for all
children and their families. Research has found that girls use computers in
and out of school less often than boys do; African American students have less
access to computers than White students; and richer schools buy more equipment
and more expensive equipment (Sutton, 1991). If educators do not work to provide
access to technology for all children, the gaps in childrens ability and
familiarity with technology will widen. Technology has many potential benefits
for children with special needs, and may be essential for successful inclusion.
Software may function as an "on-demand" tutor, meeting childrens
individual needs, learning styles, and preferences. And, when used
appropriately, it may encourage and enable all children to think and work
- Technology has a powerful influence over childrens learning -- it
must not teach them to stereotype or use violence to solve their problems.
Software can reflect childrens diverse cultures, languages, and ethnic
heritages; it should depict the world children live in and encourage them to
appreciate diversity. Teachers and caregivers are challenged to discover
software programs that promote positive social values, and encourage tolerance
and exploration of the richness in their own and other cultures. Beware of
violence and brutality in todays software, which often mirrors that of
movies and TV. It is even more disturbing when destruction is used as a means of
solving problems in computer software, because the software allows children to
cause violence themselves, rather than just witness it on the screen. Software
that allows children to destroy without facing actual consequences may hinder
them from learning personal responsibility.
- Work together with parents to promote appropriate uses of technology.
Early childhood professionals and parents both have a responsibility to educate
themselves on the benefits of technology for childrens education. Yet they
must also make smart choices as consumers and inform software developers when
they are unhappy or happy with products. Together, parents and professionals can
advocate for software that encourages cooperation among children, caters to the
needs of children with varying abilities, reflects productive and non-violent
ways of solving problems, and offers positive representations of gender,
cultural and linguistic diversity, and physical abilities.
To receive a copy of NAEYCs position statement on "Technology and
Young Children, Ages 3 through 8," see the September 1996 issue of Young
Children, or send a SASE to NAEYC Public Affairs, Box #602, 1509 16th St., NW,
Washington, DC 20036-1426.
For more information, contact:
National Association for the Education of Young Children
Washington, DC 20036-1426
Phone: (202) 232-8777 or (800)
Fax: (202) 328-1846
Copyright © 1996 by National Association for the Education of Young
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