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Teaching Tech: Principles For Use Of Technology With Early Learners

There are many options for technology use for educators and parents of early learners. With access to apps, games, digital books and video software, there are lots of interactive technologies available to use with young children.

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As more and more technologies emerge, the following principles can be applied to the learning of young children.

Children Learn in Many Different Ways

Every child does not learn in the same way or with the same sense. One child may learn best by listening while others learn best by seeing. Others learn best by doing. It is rare for a child to learn best only in an auditory or visual way.

A combination of visual, auditory and doing activities is how most young children learn. Therefore, a teacher of early learners needs to provide the children with several different ways to learn. Technology can easily provide activities to include multi-sensory ways to learn for a young child.

There are Many Ways Children Can Show What They Have Learned

Young children learn in many different ways. So too, there are many different ways young children can demonstrate the skills and knowledge of what they have learned. Children who have vocal strengths talk about the things they have learned, and others may write or draw to illustrate what they have learned. But the most important way a child can demonstrate his or her learning is by applying the new skills and information to their daily lives.

The Use of Technology for Young Children's Learning Should be Age, Individually and Culturally Appropriate

According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), decisions about which technology is best to use are made by the teacher. Teachers should evaluate software as to whether it incorporates the proper learning and development principles. Choosing software that is appropriate for the children is much the same as choosing appropriate books.

The teacher should also observe the use of the software for learning by the children. By observing, the teacher can see any problems that children may have with the use of the software. This also allows the teacher to develop ways to solve or overcome these problems.

Appropriate Use of Technology Enhances Social and Cognitive Abilities

Computers serve as a source of motivation to learn in young children. The following are reasons for this motivation:

* Children's attention is attained by the sounds and graphics of computers.

* Young children observe their parents and older children using computers. This causes them to want to use computers.

* Young children get interested in computers because they can make things happen on computers.

* Software which is appropriate developmentally involves young children in mastery learning, creative play, conversation and problem-solving.

* Children are able to repeat an activity or process as many times and as often as they want.

Differentiated Instruction Can be Implemented Early

Learning needs of children are diverse and require differentiated instruction to meet these needs. As a result, teachers must respond to the needs of each individual child.

In differentiated instruction, teachers actively address the diverse learning needs of children in their classrooms. The model differentiated instruction provides for a broad spectrum of children’s learning needs. The learning needs of gifted children are different than those of children with disabilities. Gifted children often can learn independently without support from the teacher whereas children with disabilities can’t learn independently. They need a great deal of support from the teacher to learn.

Appropriate Curriculum Standards are Designed for All Children

Regardless of the children’s abilities, each and every one of them are entitled to a rich educational experience. The educational experience should be one that will prepare the children to be both productive and successful later in life.

A framework for planning, organizing and implementing appropriate curriculum for every young child is provided by a state’s curriculum standards. These are usually outlined in the content standards of learning of a state. Teachers can use these standards to ensure the curriculum of the classroom will promote academic success in later grades.

Technology is a Tool

According to Chip Donohue, dean of distance learning and continuing education, an audio recorder, camera, TV, music player, DVD player, tablet computers, and smartphones are all examples of technology.

As a tool, technology can be used by teachers to provide activities that support children's healthy development. Teachers are engaging children in learning with the use of technology.

It is a social justice matter for teachers to integrate technology in a child care center or classroom. It is wrong to assume that all children have technology at home. School readiness can be limited by a lack of technology at home. Learning how to use technology is a skill every child needs to learn in today's classrooms.

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