As we celebrate National Literacy and Numeracy Week from August 29-September 4, it’s interesting to note the Early Years Learning Framework supports the importance of using digital technologies to support young children's learning.
But as the Goodstart Practice Guide suggests, digital technology should be used in moderation as an extension to preschool and kindergarten children’s learning.
South Australia’s Elizabeth Vale centre director Karyn Chapman, which has the status of being an “excellent” centre according the National Quality Standard, said children were much more tech-savvy than they were in the past.
She said the centre used iPads to explore social interactions through photographs and video, for imaginative play, to work on fine motor skills and to enhance literacy and numeracy skills.
“We have a number of children at this centre who have English is a second language so in many cases, we use the iPads to download U Tube videos of songs and stories in other languages,” Ms Chapman said.
“We also download iBooks in other languages quite often so that the children can hear the voices of their home countries.”
Ms Chapman said a number of the children at Elizabeth Vale attended private schools after their early education years and that it was important to give them a head start.
“We don’t get the iPads out every day and we use them only for very specific reasons such as extending our learning on a topic or for research but they do have their place.”
Aberfoyle Park deputy centre director Angela Hunt said children were eager to learn how to use computers and iPads and that it was important for them to be incorporated in the curriculum.
“We use our computers for maths and literacy concepts and we use the iPad for researching topics like bees and beehives and honey. We look up the names of dinosaurs using it. One day some Black Hawk helicopters went over the top of the house and we used it then to find out what they were,” Ms Hunt said.
“But as with everything, it’s done in moderation. A lot of the children would love to spend all day on technology so we obviously have to monitor it very carefully.”
The Goodstart Practice Guide talks about digital technology becoming a reality in children’s lives. New technologies are increasingly available to children and create further opportunities to support preschool and kindergarten children’s learning.
Tips on using digital technology with your child:
- Select and introduce a finite number of applications so that children can revisit them and develop expertise.
- Use digital technology as a way for children to communicate by sending messages and images and for documenting their own learning.
- Access the internet for information, particularly information in response to children’s questions from their play and investigations.
- Collaborate with children to set up rules of the use of digital technology, including agreed-upon time limitations.