Technology has a prominent place in schools and kindergarten classrooms are no exception. While technology doesn’t take the place of vital, developmental play and hands-on learning, it adds to them, reinforcing traditional methods of teaching. When technology in a kindergarten class is designed to encourage young children, allow for creativity and connect to the curriculum, it benefits both the teacher and the students.
Kindergarten students have notoriously short attention spans, but their interest is sparked by technology. When a teacher involves her students in a smart board program to extend their understanding of letter sounds, for example, she gives them the opportunity to interact physically, using keyboards and touch screens. A colorful animated screen captures their attention visually, keeping children interested for longer periods of time. Choosing their own programs for skill practice makes kindergartners feel empowered and encourages them to work independently.
Kindergarten students are learning to practice letter, number and reading skills through interactive computer games as well as more traditional applications, according to Jill Buban, academic program manager for teaching and learning at Post University in Waterbury, Connecticut. Some teachers have replaced math workbooks with electronic tablet programs that give children immediate feedback and free the teacher to reach those children who need one-on-one help.
Students are at various levels of understanding in core subject areas and it’s not always an easy task for kindergarten teachers to consistently assess each child’s strengths and weaknesses. Many kindergarten classrooms have access to computer labs, so students can work at their own pace, receiving remediation when needed or moving ahead for a challenge. These types of programs align with the common core standards, yet don’t require all students to be on the same page at the same time.
Early childhood education consists of lots of hands-on projects. Teachers can document their students’ progress by taking pictures with a digital camera. These photos serve as illustrations of the children’s accomplishments and assessments of their growth. Explanations students give at a smart board can also be kept in a digital portfolio. The portfolios can be shared with families at conferences and given to the next year’s teacher as a point of reference.
Collaborative learning and social interaction prepare children for the future. When a group of kindergarten students listens to a recorded book or works together at the smart board to match letters and sounds, they are learning the valuable skill of working together. When four or five students gather around a smart table, they can join forces in activities such as dragging word names to their matching numbers. Two students sitting together at a computer to determine living and nonliving things on a science program learn to cooperate.
- National Kindergarten Readiness: Why 5-Year-Olds Benefit from Technology
- Connexions: Get Smart! Smartboards in K-3 Classrooms
- Arizona State University Tots 'n Tech: SMART Boards = Independence for Young Learners
- National Association for the Education of Young Children: Meaningful Technology Integration in Early Childhood Environments
- Northwest Educational Technology Consortium: Early Connections -- Technology in Early Childhood Education
- Jill Buban; Academic Program Manager, Teaching and Learning, Post University; Waterbury, Connecticut
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