Love it or hate it, ICT is here to stay.
Q: How much ICT should you offer in your setting? Answer: It depends on a lot of things including the age and experiences of the children (this post is intended to help you make some big decisions!)
Why ICT in the early years?
Many young children are as familiar with smart phones and digital devices as they are with books or teddy bears because many parents use them and thousands of homes have access to a massive range of digital hardware and software.
Growing up with technology means young children take it for granted and aren’t fazed by it; unlike people who are not so familiar with it, who may feel anxious about it and fear using it. If fear of the technology is an issue for you then it may be worth getting some support so that you develop your confidence. If you are uncertain about whether ICT should be on offer to young children at all it may help to consider some of the following pros and cons:
|Children live in a technological age – teaching them how to use technology wisely may help them to make sensible decisions about its use in the future.||This is the ‘feast or famine principle’ – if it’s not in short supply children can learn to make choices about when to use ICT and when not to. If it’s only available once in a while children might feel they never get enough time to use it and may then want to use it more often.|
|There’s enough to do without having to fit in time for ICT.||It may feel like that, if you are working hard to ensure children have a range of opportunities, but ICT can be a valuable tool for finding information and carrying out lots of interesting activities such as taking photographs or recording children’s own voices.|
|Having a range of experiences (including ICT) to draw on helps children to find out what they are interested in.||We try to give children the widest range of experiences we can so that they can find out about the world around them. Sometimes it’s frog spawn and sometimes it’s mud, or grass or a climbing frame. Sometimes it might be ICT of some kind – perhaps to add our vote for the nation’s favourite bird. Or we may use it to prepare for a visit to a wildlife park by looking at a map so that we can plan a route that ensures we see the marmosets before the rhinos. Only by experiencing things do we know what we enjoy.|
|Children may be exposed to too few first-hand experiences by wasting their time on an electronic device.||True – therefore it’s important to plan to give children a very wide range of experiences alongside ICT. First-hand experiences can be recorded with either video or stills so that children can re-visit, recall and remember their actual experiences.|
|Many programmes and ‘apps’ are unsuitable for young children||True – but careful research will help you locate some that are suitable for different children at different times – try the Busy Things Funny Animal Muddle app with a three year old and see how a ‘pigephant’ can be created!|
Ultimately, what ICT is available to young children is a professional judgement. The EYFS requirements are extremely open-ended starting with the educational programme of Understanding the World which is about guiding children to ……..’find out about technology’. The Early Learning Goal is about recognising that a range of technology is used at home and in school with the requirement that children ‘select and use technology for particular purposes’. As with every aspect of learning adults must use their judgement to ensure that children receive the best opportunities that will support their development and learning.