Why not help our kids with some edutainment software!?
Our friend Jerry Diaz thinks that’s the right way to go, and we wanted to share his intresting article: All software is not created equally. Some programs might be effective for some instructional goals for some students, but not for others. My job as an educator will be to distinguish what is appropriate for my classroom under various circumstances.
Selecting Software for Young Children
For young children to use computers successfully, select software that is developmentally appropriate, that is, consistent with how children develop and learn. Researchers agree that software for young children should:
- Encourage exploration, imagination, and problem solving
- Reflect and build on what children already know
- Involve many senses and include sound, music, and voice
- Be open-ended, with the child in control of the pace and the path
These characteristics fit the way that young children learn.
Adult participation and guidance are important. Monitor the amount of time children spend at the computer, and talk with them about their activities. Involve young children in selecting software that matches their interests, and try not to overwhelm them with too many choices.
Open-ended and Programmed Learning Software
Children learn by experiencing, and so need to be interactive with the computer. Open-ended software gives children the opportunity to
- Make choices
- Find out the impact of their decisions
Appropriate software should help children reflect on what they already know. Children using open-ended software showed gains in many important areas, including intelligence and nonverbal skills. They showed more wondering and hypothesizing, problem solving, collaboration, and motivation, and a more positive attitude toward learning. Programmed learning or drill-and-practice software resembles electronic worksheets or flashcards. Non-developmental software encourages more competitive behavior, and can discourage creativity and exchange of ideas. Such programs should be used for limited amounts of time, not as the major focus of computer use.
Software should support the curriculum; it does not provide the learning. Drawing programs, children’s graphing programs, and storywriting software are examples that rely on the child to do the creating.
To use computers effectively, select software that supports your goals and philosophy of teaching, enhances the curriculum, and helps children solve problems independently.
Even young children can use children’s drawing and writing programs or visual reference materials to be active and creative. These programs are well-suited to educational use. Computer games and “edutainment” programs–software that claims to educate while entertaining–do not add to the educational experience of a child and are not necessary in this setting.
Software can influence cooperation and motivation, as well as how children interact with each other. Think about the experience you want children to have or the learning you want to build on, and select software carefully to encourage certain types of learning experiences.
- Preview software to see whether it is appropriate and supports instruction
- Other teachers, knowledgeable colleagues, and conference sessions on using computers in the curriculum at your level are good sources of information for software that fits the way children learn
I hope you enjoyed the article as much as I did!
Would you take your children to this type of kindergarten?!