I let my daughter watch TV. This is my 2-year old glued to (part of) an episode of Mr. Rogers (or as she calls him, Ra-Ra).
I know about the research. Children learn best from free play with creative and/or natural materials and through interactions with adults. Too much screen time can lead to poor sleep, poor learning performance, poor social skills, and poor health outcomes for children (and adults too). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children before age 2, and no more than 1-2 hours a day for older children.
Nevertheless, teachers and children are inundated with technology. Children are immediately drawn to technology and often have access to smart phones and tablets. Teachers use apps for planning, assessment, and professional development. Websites, apps, videos, and TV programs are created specifically to engage children and teach them various social and academic skills. Education standards include phrases such as “technology literacy” and “21st century skills.”
It is easy to get confused about how technology fits in a child’s life and within the classroom. What programs support children’s learning? How do we know what are appropriate limits for children? Does interaction with devices count as hands-on learning? How can we intentionally plan for effective “tech” moments?
I think Jane Brody with the NY Times said it best: “Technology is a poor substitute for personal interaction”. To me, this means that technology in and of itself is not evil and some interaction with devices (within developmentally appropriate limits) can be fun, engaging, and even meaningful for children**. However, it is not a substitute for actual teacher-child interaction. In fact, experts on children’s media maintain that children learn little from interacting with devices on their own, but can gain content and skills when an adult participates with them.
So what does all of this mean for teachers?
What about your classroom? How do you ensure that effective interactions are included with technology use?
**Of course, some adaptive technologies and devices are necessary for children with special needs and may not be subject to the same limitations as other technology use.
Teachers everywhere have yet another new challenge—supporting students and their families from home. We know that high-quality interactions, including interesting, hands-on experiences that are facilitated and supported with feedback, scaffolding, and higher-order thinking questions, best support young students' learning. So how do you help your students' caregivers offer the same high-quality interactions while at home? Well, Rachel Giannini has some super fun ideas to share! The following are ideas she shared during her session at our recent InterAct CLASS Summit.
It’s Dual Language Learner Celebration Week! Every year in the U.S., the amount of young children who live in a household where a language other than English is spoken has been steadily increasing. As of 2016, about one-third of children under age 8 – over 11 million children – are dual language learners (DLLs).
As an infant classroom teacher, you know that talking to babies is important. For instance, you tell the infants in your care what they are looking at (“You see the new block basket on the shelf!”). You label objects (“You have the red ball!”). And you describe events that take place in the classroom (“The tray just fell off the table! That scared you.”). These are all examples of talking with babies. Why, then, can it be so challenging to do this consistently in the classroom?