Ipads in Early Childhood Education. Incorporating the use of ipads in the early years classroom?

Posted under Ideas for Educators

3Oct

child on ipad

 

 

Ipads in early childhood education?  YES or NO?

 

A while back, I read that three kindergartens in Queensland are taking part in this new study to examine the ‘educational benefits’ of ipad use, particularly concerning the development of literacy and numeracy in preschool children.  I nearly choked on my cup of tea! ipads in early childhood education. let me think about that for a minute…

Why I applaud the researchers for their bold investigation, (and research is a must in these matters or else we have no way to compare the benefits or disadvantages), I’m not sure how they will determine the long-term effects of more technology at such a young age. (Or for that matter, how they judge the ‘educational value’ of a particular app or program as being suitable for learning and engagement of the child at school?)

Movement?

More importantly, I wonder where (or if) the equivalent study into the benefits of movement, and less screen time for the young child is happening?

For me, the most important question they seem to be missing concerns the fairly recent developments into brain plasticity.  Neuroscientists are beginning to gain a much deeper understanding of the brain, and how the brain works, especially with regard to the growth and development of synapse pathways in the brain and the impact of those on learning; early learning in particular.

What we know from their research is that MOVEMENT – in all shapes and forms- is CRUCIAL. Specifically, this is bodily movement, not EYE movement such as watching a screen, but whole body, gross and fine motor capacities developing through things such as movement games, dancing, skipping, climbing, running, making shapes and patterns with your limbs, following specific sequences using your feet or limbs (eg folk dances, yoga, riding bikes around cycle tracks) AND fine motor, real-life activities such as writing, sewing, drawing, painting, sorting things (beads, seeds, shapes, blocks) into patterns or groups, building using blocks or boxes, cooking, gardening, digging in the sandpit, pretend play, cleaning, and sweeping.

This is the crux of my concern.  All screen time, no matter how ‘educational’ we make it, RESTRICTS MOVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES.  When the children don’t move their bodies in all ways, shapes and forms, the development of the synapse pathways is also restricted or limited.  And we haven’t even touched upon the impact of the lack of movement and the global trend towards obesity…   Healthy children, especially preschoolers, need to move.  It is their birth right.  And I’m not sure any kind of ‘educational trend’ that encourages or demands 4 or 5 year olds to be still, contained, ordered, or quiet is quite right either.  These children are exuberant by nature and we need to work WITH THAT, encouraging their love of life and ensuring engagement with the curricula by providing activities that actually meet their developmental stage.

But in the end, it must all be about a balanced view, surely. In that case, I’d be advocating a stance against ipad technology in the early childhood space space.  Because if what I’m seeing in the general population is any indication, (and yes, it happens in my home too), children are already spending plenty of time with these ipad or iphone gadgets- in cafes, on the couch, in the car…

 

Do they really, really need MORE interactions with a screen?

 

I’d also be thinking that human interaction is the thing that supports the development of literacy and numeracy for the majority of children- face to face learning, and group times, and singing, and working in small peer groups with tactile objects, writing stories, making up real-life puppet shows for their friends, inviting puppeteers to the classroom to present their works, listening to a teacher reading, or telling oral stories, making crafty responses to the stories they hear, and interpreting the world through their hands and bodies- these things are perhaps the most important way to ensure children develop a love of learning (which surely precedes the development and retention of literacy and numerical skills.)

Human interaction would surely be the way to bring balance back into the equation.

 

I’d like to advocate for a technology-free preschool space where children can learn all the necessary skills, habits, and attributes for a successful and fruitful life through play, human relationships, and movement opportunities.  Technology comes soon enough…

 

What do YOU think about ipads

in the early childhood space space?  

Yes, or No?  and why?

 

 

6 Responses to “Ipads in Early Childhood Education. Incorporating the use of ipads in the early years classroom?”

  1. Sharni

    I agree with this. I am guilty of allowing too much TV time and I know it, but I try (against much outside pressure) to prevent the use of computers, smart phone apps and games and video games as much as possible. Your post came at a good time as we have been debating technology vs ‘old school’ methodology lately and this will add some weight to my argument :)

  2. Amanda Kasten-Lee

    I am in agreement with you Amber. I have a thirteen year old who has had an ipad for school for two years now and I am about to purchase one for my eleven year old as his school requires it from second semester in year 6. I have noticed the increase in use outside of school as well as the in class time. The ipad is used for homework, which leaves the lines open for social networking at the same time. I am sad to see this increased dependancy on technology at their ages, but at least they already had the chance to develop so many other skills prior to the introduction of the iPad. When it crashes, and they inevitably do at the most inopportune moment, they can fall back on the previously acquired skills and habits. I worry about my younger children coming through as everything is starting so much earlier for each of them.

    A technology free pre-school where social/ emotional development and gross motor are a priority, as they never will be again in the school environment.

    Amanda

  3. Amber

    Excellent, Sharni. It’s definitely worth discussing…and discussing..and discussing!

  4. Amber

    Gosh Amanda, I hadnt even thought about the cost! Definitely means an end to ‘free education” too…

  5. Educator

    I disagree… The benefits outweigh the negatives… Don’t give them any tools if you don’t believe in giving students of any age a tablet. No pencils, no crayons, no blocks, no dress up clothes. These are all tools to benefit the student just like an iPad… The success rate I have seen with Preschoolers involved with iPads compared to non iPad users is outstanding…

  6. Amber Greene

    I love to hear feedback. I’m not saying ‘never’ but I am suggesting to wait… until after primary school. I’m not alone in my beliefs either. There has been a number of articles recently about highly capable, intelligent parents who work in the field of technology sending their kids to Waldorf schools for the main reason that they want them to have a hands-on education (using blocks, crayons, etc- the tools you speak of) in the early years rather than a screen-based education because of the long-term implications of screen use in the early years- eg lack of imagination, or creative thought, or practical skills or abilities to solve practical problems. It’s the issue of ‘reel’ life vs ‘real life’ I speak about in my book. In the early years, I want ‘real life’ experiences to dominate. What’s your thoughts on that?

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