My Kid’s Teacher is Using an IPAD in his Nursery School Classroom. Will That Hurt Him?

Many early childhood classrooms around the country are beginning to introduce technology into their curriculums. Some parents have reservations about exposing their children to digital devices so early in their educations. Will their children only be interested in activities on a screen? Will screen time take over their learning time altogether? Will that lead to children who are unable to interact with their peers on a social and emotional level?

These are fair questions. Your best bet is to investigate before you sign your child up for a particular school. Most schools will have a website or a brochure explaining what their goals are for their students. Also, most will include daily activities, so you can get a very good idea of what your child will be doing. Will there be time each day for exercise in a gym or playground? Are art and music a daily part of your child’s schedule?

Is there time for looking at books and having a teacher read to the children? Is there time for imaginative play? All of these activities are essential part of a child’s day. Even the most advanced technology cannot substitute for human interaction in these areas.

The best person to talk to about use of technology is the Director of the school. On a tour, you can ask questions about tablet use. If there is no tour, make an appointment with the Director. Discuss your concerns. How often will a child use an iPad or other digital device? Will children use devices for solitary games, or in a group, to figure out certain questions? (What does a gorilla eat? What did the dinosaurs look like? What is the view of Earth from outer space?) The use of tablets for group discussion can accomplish the same goals for social interaction as any other group activity, especially if rules like taking turns are included.

In addition, much can be learned about children who live in other parts of the world. There are apps like ONE GLOBE KIDS that are specifically designed to show how other kids go to school, where they play and what they eat. Kids can learn a great deal about other countries and cultures just by interacting with videos specifically designed for that purpose. This can be a broadening experience, one that is necessary in our increasingly shrinking world.

So, digital devices can be very valuable tools in a school setting. You just have to make sure that the school you choose balances digital learning with the hands-on experiences that are so crucial for human development. Even with the genius of new technology, there really is no substitute for person-to-person interaction.

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Patti Wollman Summers contributor

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