The popularity of iPads in the education system has been constantly a heated topic of discussion. Since Apple introduced the iPad in April, 2010, not much research has been done on the use of iPads in the early years as compared to the use of iPads with children six years and older. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics young infants and toddlers under age two should not have any screen time. However, in preschool age children ages 3-5, it is limited to one hour per day of screen time.
To prepare the next generation of innovators and researchers, we have to start making changes in our classrooms, so children can see technology tools being integrated effectively and intentionally. In my preschool classroom, I encourage my young explorers to engage in self-inquiry and learning by constantly connecting the dots that would lead their young minds to become problem solvers.
The environment is one of the best teachers, and I encourage my students to take advantage of the Florida weather by using the outdoor environment to engage in learning about the world around them as much as they spend time in indoor learning. The iPads enhance those learning experiences, social interactions and spirit of collaboration among my students. I have observed the high level of engagement of my students as they begin to notice different objects, inquire about them, wonder what those objects are for, and eventually gain knowledge through self-discovery and further explorations. Having my students documenting themselves and narrating their experiences is what I focus on as a teacher. There are two iPad applications that I find more easy to use by children: Shadow Puppet, and Show Me. These two apps not only support cognition, but also directly impact the students learning, thinking, explaining, recalling, narrating, and social and emotional development. These apps not only serve children but allow me to be more connected with my students, to be more aware of their skills as they narrate their learning experiences.
Both these apps have built in feature to share with the families which increases the family engagement in my classroom. Many families continue to explore at home and share their experiences with our students. Families are a valuable resource and I love getting them involved in the classroom’s research topics. This allows the families, children and the school to be more connected, to be in sync.
With technology becoming more prevalent as a means of sharing information and communicating with one another, early childhood educators have an opportunity to build stronger relationships with parents and enhance family engagement (NAEYC & FRC, 2012)
Young children need opportunities to develop the early “technology-handling” skills associated with early digital literacy. By integrating these technology tools in the early childhood classrooms, we are helping to build a new generation of thought-leaders.