We are always looking for the magic bullet, something that will solve all our problems. And, today this magic bullet for education is technology.
Are Computers Developmentally Appropriate?
Most experts believe computers are not developmentally appropriate for children under the age of three. However, these same experts believe children three years old and older can begin to effectively explore and use computers. Surely, many of the factors that make computers developmentally inappropriate for children under age three are also present in older children: active learners busily manipulating a wide variety of objects…and in the process of learning about themselves and their environment”.
To evaluate whether computers are developmentally appropriate for children over age three, we need to determine the developmental needs of these children. Children this age are developmentally within Piaget’s pre-operational stage. Further, children this age are extremely active and mobile. They often have difficulty sitting still; they need frequent changes in learning modalities; and they want a variety of physical experiences involving dance, physical play, climbing, and sports. Pre-operational children are also are continuing their mastery of language, and exploring various facets of social behavior.
Howard Gardner has shown that young children exhibit a diversity of learning styles and that the optimum way for many children to learn is not the traditional teacher-directed, verbal approach (Gardner, 1987). We must be sensitive to these different learning approaches, especially as we serve an even larger diversity of children.
In most early childhood programs and schools, technology will be part of the learning landscape of the future. Further, the technology must be fully integrated with the program’s educational goals and objectives. Finally, we must continually strive to use technology in ways where it is particularly powerful: individualizing, addressing learning disabilities and different learning styles, and bringing the world into the classroom.
(By Francis Wardle, Ph.D)