Introduction of information communication and technology (ICT) to the curriculum is only a generation back that has shifted the traditional paradigm of teaching and learning into modern approaches. ICT today is more than a subject and used as a tool that inculcates technology in everyday life.
Looking around, it is very common that children use digital cameras, play games, and watch videos independently. Children of this era are growing in the technology world. We think that it is our responsibility to teach ICT to children to help them learn how to use it. But this is the myth because children are digitally native. Children know more than we do.
Advantages of ICT in Early Childhood Care andEducation
There are many benefits of using ICT in the early years. Most parents use their smartphone or computer to answer children’s questions that children observe closely. A very young child knows how to use a tablet or smartphone before the age of two. Children have exposure to ICT tools that have a great effect on them and the environment and people around them.
Children are aware of the range of technologies that are being used in different places especially homes and schools for particular purposes. An appropriate and good technology helps children to excite, motivate and engage in meaningful learning activities. It will promote skills, competency to progress across all areas of learning and development.
ICT based activities support and enhance learning and experiences. It helps children metacognition process and provides the foundation. It provides many opportunities for creative development and imaginative thinking. Children can improve language through ICT tools and resources. Children can improve their world knowledge by using modern technology through the internet. ICT has many features to create a learning environment and improve the fine and motor gross skills of children. Besides, different mathematical concepts can be taught through visual images.
Children have exposure to experience ICT in a real environment. These ICT resources include ATM machines, electronic billboards, electronic barriers, automated doors, intercoms, barcode reader, food processer and microwave etc. In Early years classrooms TV, interactive whiteboard, e-books, audiobooks, tablet, computers and interactive toys etc. can be used for educational development.
Using ICT in Developing 21st Century Skills
The role and potential of ICT in early childhood education is essential in this era of digitally native children. Therefore,there is a need to integrate ICT with learning 21st-century skills in promoting teaching and learning process. Following are some ICT based activities with suggested ICT resources that may help in developing 21st-century skills:
- Engage the child in digital storytelling by using cameras, recorders and printers.
- Long before using the internet, guide them how to access information on internet. Possibly, it will reduce the risk of exposure to harmful content once internet is introduced.
- Word processors that talk is an effective activity to play with language.
- Young children can use computers in the classroom to make banners, signs, and other props for roleplaying.
- Through ICT tools, different pictures and words can be introduced. Even captions onto photos provide an opportunity to promote written and oral language skills.
- Help children to access everyday gadgets for exploration and play e.g. switching, winding up, turning or clicking so that they may be able to make something happen. They will understand the cause and effect (how what they do causes something to happen).
- Use a torch to flick a switch, push buttons, squeeze or even wind up.
- Provide wind-up toys, electrical toys that make lights and sounds, voice recorders, remote control toys and use batteries to begin in great ways.
- Give an experience to children to take pictures of their creativity e.g. block play, work station or outside.
- Promote imaginative play or role-play by using real mobile phones, television remote controls, computer keyboards, calculators, card readers, watches, digital clocks, radios and CD and MP3 players etc. to develop confidence.
- Discuss electronic equipments that are used in real-life situations e.g. traffic lights, scanners, microwaves, cash tills, etc. and investigate how they work.
- Ask children to observe the school and home environment and share the list of items that are being used in school and home e.g. photocopier, alarms, washing machines, television sets.
- Demonstrate how batteries make a toy work.
- Watch videos and discuss to share their opinions.
- Demonstrate how sound devices are controlled, describing actions and buttons, (e.g. ‘record’, ‘play’), both on and offscreen.
E-Safety Measures in Early Years Classes
It is important to keep the following e-safety measures while using ICT in early years classes.
- Ensure that children are safe while online.
- Supervise closely at all times.
- Security settings on the computer must be set as high as possible and all websites vetted to ensure they are appropriate for the children to use.
- Share recommended website list with teachers and parents to follow.
- Before adding new website in the safe list, ICT lead must approve it for selection.
- Discuss electricity, wires, password and ways for keeping safe.
- Guide children on the length of time while using technology.
ICT in the early years’ foundation stage is crucial because children are more friendly users before starting school. Children understand and learn to live in an interconnected world.It is important to develop better knowledge and a healthy attitude towards ICT from the early years. It will help children to use ICT positively for a lifetime.