Preschools, Tech-Time, And What Parents Need To Know

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Is technology a part of the pre-k curriculum? If your family is visiting preschools in the local area, you may notice that each program handles tech-time in a slightly different way—and you're not sure what that means for your child's education. Before you pick a preschool program, take a look at what parents need to know about child development, technology use, and the early childhood education environment.

Should a Preschool Use Technology in the Classroom?

There isn't one universal answer to this question. Sometimes educators should use technology in the pre-k classroom—and sometimes they shouldn't. If this seems confusing, think about how, when, and why a preschool class would use technology. 

According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Position Statement on technology and young children, interactive media/tech tools can support learning and child development in the early childhood classroom. But educators must use these tools appropriately and intentionally. This means teachers need to carefully select the types of technology and media-based activities they use. They must also have specific learning/development goals for these activities or any early childhood technology use.

The growing need to understand and work with technology in the twenty-first society requires students to develop different skill sets compared to what they would need to learn decades ago. This makes an early introduction to technology almost essential. While passive use of media in the classroom won't benefit pre-k students, hands-on activities can help the young child to build early or foundational technology skills that they'll use right now and throughout their lifetime.

What Types of Technology Activities Are Appropriate in the Classroom?

Again, there isn't one answer to this question. Passive activities that allow the young child to sit and stare at a screen won't help to build technology, academic, or developmental skills. Parents shouldn't see students watching "shows" on a computer, tablet, or any other device in the preschool classroom. The teacher should also limit screen-based activities, making them part (not all) of the school day.

Instead, you should see children who are actively engaged in technology-based learning. These activities could include anything from manipulating a keyboard or mouse through practice play types of games to basic Internet research or creating books with age-appropriate design software. The specific activities will depend on the program's curriculum, the students' ages/developmental levels, and the teacher's learning goals for the students. 

How Can Technology Help Preschoolers?

Appropriate and intentional technology use in the preschool classroom can help young children to build cognitive skills such as problem-solving, memory, and critical-thinking abilities. It can also help them to develop fine motor (hand and finger) skills, creativity, and familiarity with devices/tech tools. To learn more about your child's potential future preschool's curriculum and stance on tech-time, talk to the director or classroom educator.