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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in young children and technology
Posted by on in What If?

teacher and children

Those of us with children have all been there: standing in a queue as long as the river Nile at the supermarket with a slowly unraveling toddler in the cart. You could hand her your iPhone with a colorful app that bings and boings to forestall that tantrum. Or, you could talk to her – where are those apples in the cart? Can she find the picture of the little girl on the cereal box, or find the letter “G” that her name starts with on the big sign over head?

In fact, researcher Julia Ma and her colleagues suggest that you just might want to have that conversation. At a recent Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, they reported their findings from a study of over 1000 children under the age of 2. They had asked parents to report how often their children used handheld digital devices in an average day. These same parents then responded to a questionnaire about their children’s language abilities. What did they find? Children with more screen time were more likely to be delayed in their language expression! Moreover, these researchers were careful and took many other factors into account when they did their analyses: maternal education, family income, infant temperament, and parent - child overall screen time on other than handheld devices. These precautions suggest that their finding was really about children’s handheld screen time.

Handheld devices are pervasive – found in every crevice of our lives. We check them before we go to bed and they are the first point of contact with the world when we awaken in the morning. Recent data shows high uptake by even the youngest children. Reports suggest that the 2-4 crowd goes digital for almost 2 hours a day. But the widespread use of these devices is a relatively new phenomenon. We just sang "Happy Birthday" to the 10-year-old iPhone and the tablet is just 7 years of age. Not surprisingly, research has lagged behind the rapidly changing technology. But that means that we are putting devices into the hands of our toddlers when we know very little about their possible effects.

But we do know what helps our children learn language. Decades of research tell us that language learning depends on human interaction and on what researchers call ‘contingency’ – responding to our children soon after they speak and building on what they say. Digital devices can interrupt the conversation that is so vital to language success. Research from our labs shows that children will not learn new words when their conversation with a parent is interrupted by a cell phone call.

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Posted by on in Education Technology


This year I have had the amazing opportunity to participate in a few Voxer groups that have given me the nudge to pursue coding at my school.  With great mentorship from Adam Welcome and Dr. Brad Gustafson I was able to really wrap my head around-do kindergartners really have the ability to code?  

In January of 2016 we started a ‘Coding Club’.  For 6-8 weeks I will get the opportunity to work with small groups of students during the day using a variety of technology tools to develop our skills in the following:

By learning to code and operate robots we will be able to:

  • Create solutions for problems
  • Collaborate with each other
  • Develop visual spatial skills (the ability to mentally orientate, manipulate, track and rotate robots)
  • Reflect on our learning
  • Read and interpret visual information
  • Demonstrate the safe and cooperative use of technology.
  • Independently apply digital tools and resources to address a variety of tasks and problems.
  • Communicate about technology using developmentally appropriate and accurate terminology

In order to get this all up and running I needed to secure:

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Posted by on in Education Leadership




Taking away a device is not an acceptable approach to discipline in the 1:1 classroom.

Some tips: 

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Posted by on in Movement and Play


We love technology. If it talks to us, requires a charge and responds to a touch, we gotta have it. But is the same true for our kids? Although they love these devices too -- just ask any parent with an iPhone or tablet -- should parents be tempted to forgo purchasing those colorful blocks and puzzles that have been staples in children's toy chests for centuries? A study we are just about to publish in the journal, Child Development suggests that opting for an electronic toy over that block set might be a big mistake. Playing with blocks may be crucial for helping preschoolers develop "spatial thinking." We use spatial thinking all the time -- like when we pack up the trunk of our car for a trip, or use a map or envision where the triangular block goes in relation to the square blocks. These are just the kinds of skills that support learning in science, technology, engineering and math (often called STEM skills). And spatial tasks like block building don't only have payoff for developing spatial skills. Putting block structures together and taking them apart may yield important lessons for math, where after all, we add units and take units away all the time.

In our study (conducted with Brian Verdine, Alicia Chang, Andrew Filipowicz and Professor Nora Newcombe), we asked three-year-old girls and boys to copy six structures we built out of blocks. So, for example, we showed each child a block structure made out of four blocks and asked them to make the same thing. We gave them the exact number of blocks they needed, but all separated. Not so simple for a three-year-old. For one thing, the blocks have little pips on them -- those bumps on the block that allow the children to tightly fit one block on top of the other. If a child puts a block over the wrong pips, they made a mistake. And children have to notice whether a block in the model is horizontal or perpendicular to the block on the bottom. 

Drumroll please! We found that both boys and girls who were better at copying the block designs were also better on math problems that don't involve language -- like when you slip two black disks under a cover and then slip in one more and ask children how many disks they have now. They don't see the disks, so they can't count them. Instead they have to keep in mind how many are under the cover and what adding one more disk comes to. Block building takes memory and noticing "how many" too, because of the pips on the blocks. So our research and other studies suggest that experiences with building blocks may turn out to be building a foundation for understanding math. Calling someone a blockhead has a whole new meaning!

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

You can't deny it. Technology is part of life in our society... more so every day. It changes the way we communicate, socialize, conduct business, and handle daily tasks. Children need to be prepared to function in this type of society. We ease them into it with the software we choose and the time we provide for them on computers and other devices.

By the time we get a child in our early childhood classroom, he may already have logged thousands of hours of screen time. He may have started accumulating these hours as an infant, with baby videos and TV. Mom may have found it easier to give him her phone with a movie, than interacting with him in the car or a restaurant. Popping in a DVD while making dinner worked really well, and soon it expanded to time after dinner. He also had some games to play, too. Soon, it would easier to do this just about any time or most of the time… and the child probably learned just the right buttons to push (pun intended) to get the devices turned on. Screen activities were now part of his life and had begun to overshadow other activities, like playtime with Mommy and Daddy or other children, and playing outside. He wasn’t missing these other things and was now actively preferring a screen.

two kids on pad

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