Technology For Preschoolers: How To Excel In Elementary School
Technology has a bad rep of stripping kids away from the joys of childhood. But, are we looking at it the wrong way?
We grew up in the age of playgrounds and outdoor adventures, a far cry from what this era’s children are used to.
Today, technology is ubiquitous with modern kids—the Generation Alpha—in shaping their childhood. Yes, there are concerns about introducing children to technology.
Addiction and the potential exposure to the harmful parts of the Internet are two problems that remain at the forefront of every parent’s worry.
However, look at the big picture and you’ll see that technology is actually a good thing for children, particularly in helping them adapt to tech-heavy careers of the future.
One of the areas where this benefit comes into play is in helping kids prepare for elementary school.
Why adapting to technology is important for elementary school children
Computers have long been part and parcel of elementary schools across the US.
This has evolved rapidly over the years into EdTech, which is defined as:
EdTech (a portmanteau of “education” and “technology”) refers to software designed to enhance teacher-led learning in classrooms and improve students’ education outcomes. – Investopedia
EdTech is becoming prevalent in elementary schools, where support is growing among teachers on the use of digital devices and software to aid them in the teaching process.
A survey by PBS found that 74% of teachers believe tech is a great way to motivate students to learn and engage with the classroom. The same study also showed teachers are demanding for more classroom technology to assist children.
Philip Bird, a teacher at Monsignor J.J. O’Brien School in Calgary, Alberta, used tech to great effect to hone his 9th-grade class’ writing skills.
Using a combination of writing prompts and gamification, Bird created a fantasy world for his students to build their characters and craft their own journey through writing.
Just six weeks after starting, Bird’s students had already registered over 700,000 words—a fantastic achievement considering the circumstances.
Industry experts and thought leaders in the education space are further echoing the importance of using technology in education today.
David Goodrum, director of academic technology and information services at Oregon State University believes that “digital education is generating new learning opportunities as students engage in online, digital environments” while Erik Harrell of Kahoot! Fame shares the same opinion by saying that “digital technologies work best in the classroom to engage students.”
What is causing the shift from physical textbooks to digital-focused learning in elementary education?
Generation Alpha has zero interest in the passive, traditional way of learning through textbooks and lectures.
This is not their fault, however, as they are brought up in an almost fully-digital environment.
From playing the latest mobile smash hits and laughing at their favorite YouTube personalities (as opposed to TV) on their tablets, children prefer to use technology as an entertainment outlet rather than rolling in the mud with their friends in the summer.
In fact, a majority of kids today prefer to “hang out” digitally over physical meetups.
Educators realize this trend and are taking proactive steps by emphasizing digital-focused education in schools.
How does technology help kids prepare for elementary school?
The matter of the fact is that technology will play a major role in future learning instead of being an add-on to school curriculums.
Here are a few ways tech can help kids prepare for school.
As an educational tool for pre-school learning
Technology is a great tool for children to start learning early, especially under the supervision of parents.
Rather than letting kids use smartphones on their own accord, parents should play an active role by engaging and playing along with their children to encourage learning through technology.
Educational apps, for example, can be used to give children a grasp of basic concepts in science and maths to familiarize them with the topics they’ll eventually learn in school.
These apps are designed to be fun while reinforcing learning which is beneficial for children as it allows them to pick up information faster and retain it longer.
In 2015, several researchers teamed up to find out the educational benefits of playing with apps in a number of four to six-year-olds.
The premise of the research was straightforward: could the subjects solve tasks in the app (Tower of Hanoi) and do the same thing but with the physical version of the problems?
Interestingly, the subjects completed the physical tasks without needing any extra time, proving that children can learn from apps and use that knowledge in real-world scenarios e.g. solving problems in school tests.
As an enabler of digital literacy to keep up with digitized school curriculums
Digital literacy is one of the most important skills to have today and in the future.
It’s not only necessary for elementary school, but tomorrow’s careers will also require digital skills as well regardless of the industry and job scope.
In fact, 57% of executives cite digital literacy as an important gap to fill in organizations, which explains the necessity for children to pick up technology as soon as they can.
Exposing children to technology early on is beneficial as they learn and pick up things quicker than the average adult.
This is why kids today are able to navigate YouTube and other smartphone apps that some millennials would struggle with.
As mentioned earlier, elementary education is becoming digitalized as schools seek to make learning more engaging and compatible with Generation Alpha.
Getting children to acquaint themselves with technology will benefit them immensely in their curriculum, resulting in increased school and test results.
In a study conducted by the Institute of Education Sciences, researchers discovered that children who spent time engaging with their favorite educational apps scored higher on math and language tests.
As a platform for kids to gain confidence and overcome shyness at school
The first day of elementary school is always nerve-wracking for children especially if they’ve never attended pre-school. Shyness is common in children from ages 6 to 12 years old—technology can be the solution for kids to break out of their shell.
In the case of elementary school students, shyness often stems from a feeling of exclusion and not being able to mingle with other kids.
Usually, this barrier is broken down by children playing with each other through sports or at the playground, for example.
Technology, however, has broadened the definition of “play” among children. Today, kids make friends and play with each other in online games (e.g. Minecraft and Fortnite) which helps them overcome social anxiety at school.
Games are a common interest for most kids so it’s really easy for elementary school children to get to know new people even if they come from different backgrounds and upbringings.
Games are not the only technology helping children to build relationships with other kids.
Social communities like BiblioNasium and KidBlog safely connect kids to their peers by creating children-only platforms for them to communicate and express themselves, further helping preschool children to overcome shyness in their elementary school journeys.
Technology can help kids to prepare for elementary school
Sure, there will always be risks and concerns when it comes to integrating technology with children’s education.
In the grand scheme of things though, technology is a good thing—and it is a powerful tool in helping kids transition to the life-changing world of elementary education.