This story is brought to you by C&K. a not-for-profit organisation operating childcare and kindergartens across Queensland. After first opening its doors in 1907, it now has more than 350 centres. Click here to find your nearest centre or call 1800 177 092.
Using technology with children to create rich educational experiences
Whether you like it or loathe it, technology is here to stay. It is an integral part of the world that our children are growing up in and will completely reshape their future landscapes.
That’s why it’s vital that parents and educators approach the use of technology with children with a sense of both caution and curiosity. We must make careful decisions about how best to employ technology in order to encourage our children to become active creators rather than passive consumers.
In addition to their extensive outdoor nature play, C&K centres encourage the use of appropriate digital technologies as educational tools to contextualise the Australian Curriculum and the Early Years Learning Framework. Babies, toddlers and children are encouraged to participate in the use of technology to enhance their play-based learning experiences.
Here are FIVE key ways that using technology with kids can help, rather than hinder, their learning journey.
1. Connection with others
Communication is a key life skill. The media often bemoans the fact that children who use technology can lose touch with the world around them and that the art of communication is becoming lost.
However, using technology with children in an appropriate and responsible way can open up a whole new world to them and allow them to make strong, real connections.
Creating and sharing videos and photos and video chatting is a fantastic way for children to use technology to increase their communication skills. That Skype call to grandparents who live in another state allows that relationship to grow despite distance.
At C&K, different groups in centres across Queensland can communicate with each other. They can share stories, engage in a digital pen pal relationships and see that there is a whole new world outside of their centre walls.
2. Researching and exploring
Technology offers children the opportunity to research and learn more in real time. A conversation about local animals might lead educators to access video clips. A gardening project might mean that the tablet comes outside and is in easy reach to find graphics and information that will help with understanding.
Children can take photos, explore their interests and share their research findings with each other.
3. Promoting creativity using apps
Applications that are open-ended are a great use of technology with children. Robyn Mercer, Chair of C&K Educational Technologies Team, says:
Apps where children are prompted to solve problems, build or create, drawing apps, collage apps, … (apps where) you can create short videos with your child or (where) your child can practice writing your name, are all good.
There are even apps that help young children learn a new language! The possibilities are endless.
4. Engaging with exciting technology like robotics
We truly are living in a digital world! Robotics and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) are now central to classroom learning in Prep, primary school and beyond. Robotics technology starts young at C&K where students might use Beebots, programmable floor robots, to navigate maps.
This learning experience allows children to navigate key STEM skills including:
• Problem solving
• Considering directionality
Knowledge and understanding of this exciting new technology allows children to be both innovators and creators.
5. Tinkering with technology
This could mean tracing how outdated technology has evolved through time, from the stereo to the iPod, or taking apart an old computer (making sure that batteries and power packs are removed first) to see what makes it tick. Allowing children to get hands- on experience and experiment with tangible technological materials is a form of play-based learning. Experimenting, questioning and risk-taking with technology can contextualise their learning and allow them to see how technology is used in our daily lives.
Finding the right balance for your child
C&K is a not-for-profit organisation that has been offering rich and varied learning experiences for Queensland children since 1907. Exciting, innovative use of appropriate technology is incorporated into C&K a big focus for their programs. Children at C&K are encouraged to make active decisions and to engage with technology in a way that promotes a lifelong love of learning.
You can find C&K online to locate your nearest centre or call their Central office on 1800 177 092.