I presented to a great group of preschool teachers recently. We talked about Internet resources for early childhood education. I learned several things from them and hope they learned a few things too.
In the process of the presentation we got into a little discussion about having computers in preschool classrooms. It seemed, as the conversation evolved, that many of the teachers wanted to have computers in their classroom. We talked about the option of having a computer lab and having an outside company bring in computers as one of the “specials” for the students. None of the options sounded great to me. Then one of the teachers brought up the recent news article about young children needing more “free play.” The children get plenty of screen time at home. Preschool is a place to interact with others and learn relate in a group of non-family members. This I agreed with. Even though I am a strong proponent of the benefits of technology I think the AAP got it right when they said we should limit the screen time of children. We tabled the discussion and got back to my presentation.
Later in the day the discussion kept creeping back into my mind. What did I think was the right answer for this preschool? And then it came to me – my old mantra. Technology is just a tool! We were focusing on the computer resource like it was something that should hold a different status than blocks or toy cars. It shouldn’t. I think there should be a computer center. Maybe it should rotate from classroom to classroom, but it should be integrated into the curriculum. The children of this generation see computers as another toy in their toy box. We as educators need to recognize this. It should be available. And we should use it to further our curriculum themes, but don’t make it something separate. Just put it in the toy box with the rest of the toys.