Should Kindergarten Students Be Using Technology?

One of the debates going on in technology education seems to be “When do you begin using technology in the classroom?”. Is it appropriate for a 5 year old child to be spending classroom time interacting with a computer /iPad, or would that time be better spent interacting with the teacher or classmates, or a book?

Proponents (like this school in Boyertown, PA) say that it gets students immersed in the learning, provides teachers with an alternative means of differentiating instruction, and allows shy students a different way to show their creativity. The school in this video show many different programs available on the iPad that can be beneficial for kindergartners.

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Opponents (like Emerson Waldorf School in Chapel Hill, NC) say that ”A computer is a tool of the intellect, so schools should wait until the children developmentally reach that stage where they have concrete, abstract thinking before introducing an intellectual tool”. And “Teaching children how to learn, and to love learning, better prepares them for life than training them in the latest technology”.

One of the teachers interviewed, Jason Child, goes so far as to say ”It’s a mistake to educate our children for the world today, because the world today is not what they will meet”. I found this last quote pompous and misleading. The time I spend in 7th grade learning to program on and Apple 2e using Turtle graphics was not a mistake or a waste of time. It help lay a technological foundation for me as I learned to program in basic.

I feel that a mixture of both philosophies fits be best. I want my students to interact with technology and I have seen it positively impact student learning. However, I also agree there is no substitute for human interaction, be it with teachers or peers. There is a time and place for both in the kindergarten classroom, and it’s in the students best interests that we use all means available to us to enrich their instruction.

3 comments for “Should Kindergarten Students Be Using Technology?

  1. Avatar of Aroma Pannu
    April 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    I totally agree that there is no substitution for human interaction. A middle road is appropriate just like it is for any other aspect of education. Technology affords the educator another manner in which they can teach their students but does not replace the teacher or any other ‘traditional’ activity. One of the statements in the recently released NAEYC position paper states that “appropriate technology and media use balances
    and enhances the use of essential materials, activities, and
    interactions in the early childhood setting, becoming part
    of the daily routine” (Anderson 2000; Van Scoter, Ellis, &
    Railsback 2001; Copple & Bredekamp 2009; NAEYC 2009a). link to naeyc.org
    I would even say that the intentional use of technology is a much better teaching strategy than the use of worksheets or drill and practice – which sadly given the changes in the curriculum are becoming more common than not.

  2. Avatar of Jeff Utecht
    April 25, 2012 at 7:34 am

    I agree that a little of both….or is that a lot of both…..is what is best. What I don’t like seeing is technology for technology sack even in Kindergarden. As @aromapannu states above to often technology just substitutes drill and practice. I’m all for educational games, and game based learning but drill and practice are not what I have in mind when I think about game based education.

    I also think that as early as possible we should be having conversations with students on when it would be appropriate to use the technology and when is it appropriate to ask someone else. I think to often we rely on technology to give us the answer or to ‘fill time’. I think we need to start as early as possible talking about balance and playing Fruit Ninja sometimes and other times playing with blocks and coloring. Having these conversations will help students hopefully live balanced lives as they grow up.

    My biggest fear is with parents using technology as a “baby sitter”. I get it once and awhile, but parents who constantly put technology in front of kids early on and then later on say they are addicted to it frustrate me. Balance with technology, I think, is also something we need to help parents teach students as well.

  3. Rock Hudson
    May 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    I would also have to say I don’t agree with individuals, like the people at Emerson or Jason Childs. Saying it is best to wait to introduce technology or the world today, is not going to be the world they will meet. Both my own kids had ITouches in their hands at the age of 3 plus. Two weeks later they were teaching me how to navigate my way around them and the different things you can do on them. Yes we certainly don’t want our kids to spend all their time on technology, but like you say a balance is the best. I am very happy that my son comes home after school and is excited to share and teach me what he has learnt in all his subjects, technology included. It must be that great teacher of his! I only wish that at his age I could have been lucky enough to have been introduced to technology and developed a foundation. Perhaps I would not be such a tech spaz today if I had the foundation he is getting right now!

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