We’ve all seen toddlers interacting with their parents’ smartphones, mimicking mommy talking to a friend, taking a picture, or surfing the web. Kids today don’t know a world without handheld devices and sophisticated interactive media. Chances are your preschooler knows his way around a touch screen as well or better than the grownups in his life.
Since kids are naturally interested in these devices, preschool is the prime time to introduce educational technology into the classroom. As with all resources, the best educators incorporate technology with intention. With a little planning, teachers can use EdTech to engage preschoolers, work on problem-solving, or help students learn to work in groups.
Want to see a cutting-edge Preschool Program that is using Clear Touch Interactive® panels in creative ways? Check out the Weslaco ISD Pre-K Program.
5 Effective Ways to Include EdTech in Preschool
Sound use of EdTech should honor and enhance the learning of the early childhood student without usurping or stifling their creativity and natural sense of exploration. Clear Touch Interactive® panels for education give your classroom that capability and help you strike that balance.
Consider these effective ways to include edtech in the preschool classroom:
Use apps and software that encourage creative problem solving rather than drilling.
There are thousands of apps and games out there for early learning, and some are much better than others. Avoid programs that reduce children to passive receivers of information or entertainment. And while drills may hone certain skills, they do not engage the creative brain of a child. Open-ended apps like speakaboos and Leo’s Pad offer excellent interactive, adaptive learning programs that are perfect for the classroom. In addition, Clear Touch Interactive® panels put engaging games and activities literally at your fingertips. Our Snowflake Multiteach collaborative software suite comes automatically loaded on your panel, ready to use in minutes with no annual subscription.
Remember, EdTech is good screen time.
There is compelling research to support limiting a child’s screen time each day—in fact, we’d all do good to be mindful how much and what kind of screen time is in our day. But young children, especially, need to have enough unstructured time each day to engage in creative play and remain physically active.
However, collaborative EdTech is different than unsupervised, unregulated use and interaction with iPads, smartphones, and other personal devices. The key to quality screen time is interaction. Spending too much time alone, engrossed with YouTube videos or video games changes toddlers’ brain chemistry, making them more hyper, more irritable, and less likely to get quality sleep. Intentional use of educational technology with large screens, on the other hand, results in productive brain engagement for young learners. Children playing educational games, working together with other students and the teacher, challenges the brain and teaches helpful technology skills. This kind of activity also helps young kids develop social skills in the classroom. Likewise, watching a high quality educational video followed by a talk and discussion time is a very positive use of technology.
Clear Touch Interactive® panels are designed specifically with group engagement and interactivity in mind. Clear Touch™ panels are excellent for little learners, especially when adjusted to a low, tabletop position. Preschool students can gather around the panel to play games and other collaborative projects by setting the panel at the perfect low height position on a convertible or adjustable mobile stand.
Realize that sometimes the pretend device is just as good as the real thing.
As we just mentioned, it’s easy to get too much of a good thing with screen time. As educators, we still want to provide and facilitate plenty of real-world engagement and play. Children can create amazing imaginative play with only bare bones for tools. Ask any grandma who’s bought her grandchild a shiny new toy, only to have him spend more time exploring the box it came in, or giving preferential treatment to banging her pots and pans.
The same holds true for tech devices in the classroom. The imaginary play center in a classroom doesn’t need a real stove or real babies in order for children to play house. Similarly, the classroom doesn’t need to be equipped with real iPads or computers to develop children’s curiosity about using them. Provide blocks or old devices without batteries—and other things that can stand in for the real deal. Your kiddos will have a blast booking lunch dates, chatting with friends, and playing exciting imaginary video games.
Choose programs that are child-friendly and appropriate that promote positive social interaction and collaboration.
One of the last things we want to happen is for technology in the classroom to isolate kids and replace interaction with classmates and teachers. The teacher-student relationship and other social interactions are the foundation of the healthy learning environment, and no EdTech can trump that. Instead, the most effective programs for young children allow them to work together in pairs or small groups, interacting and collaborating. Your Clear Touch Interactive® panel provides the perfect set-up for such use. With 20 points of simultaneous touch, multiple children can use the panel at once. In tabletop position, the panel becomes an ideal ELA or Math learning center. Students can work and play on the touchscreen (at just the perfect height for little ones). They can even play similar but different games when the screen is divided into up to four separate individualized active zones.
Use tools and devices yourself to deliver material to students in creative ways.
Not all the use of EdTech in your classroom need be at the hands of the students. There are plenty of ways in which you as the teacher can use technology to enrich their learning environment that do not include direct hands-on use by the learners. Education technology allows teachers to enhance instruction, document data, improve communication, and improve assessments. Along with the Clear Touch™ Snowflake Multiteach collaborative software, comes a resource for early childhood educators. Through our Snowflake Multiteach Lessons community, teachers can create and share vibrant, interactive learning experiences. You can record and archive lessons with EasiCapture, so you can build a library of digital resources.
When it comes to educating young children, meaningful relationships and high-quality content are the foundation. Without those core elements, the most innovative technology accomplishes very little. But add cutting-edge, effective educational technology to the toolbox of an outstanding teacher, and the possibilities are endless. We make it our mission at Clear Touch™ to come alongside educators and equip them with the most cutting-edge, accessible, and user-friendly technology to take their already excellent instructing to the next level.