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New iStartSmart Elite Software Release

Written By: Ginny Norton

Publish Date: Sep 26, 2017


Over the last several years, there has been exponential growth in young children’s access to technology. In November 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced new recommendations for children’s media use.

The AAP’s recommendations include:

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they're seeing.
  • For children who are 2 to 5 years old, limit screen use to one hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.

As early childhood educators accepted and embraced the use of high-quality media for young children, many asked Hatch why iStartSmart Elite was not designed for children under 41 months. While children under 41 months could play the games, we did not think it was appropriate to monitor and provide reporting on their progress: We were concerned about the reliability of this information.

After an extensive, research-driven review, we realigned the current iStartSmart learning scaffold to be appropriate for children under 41 months. In fact, during our review, we determined there should be three learning scaffolds with games available to children based on their skill level and ability. The three learning scaffolds are:

  • 28 - 36 months (Toddler)
  • 36 - 41 months (Early Preschool)
  • 41 months and up (Preschool)

RMS ChildredWhen a child logs into iStartSmart, their age is used to present a selection of games appropriate for their skill level and ability. As games are successfully completed, more advanced games will be presented to ensure each child is progressing at their own pace. And all of the child’s progress will be monitored and available for teachers on the Report Management System.

Another feature we are excited to share is “just in time” instructions. When iStartSmart was developed, we felt it important to provide in-game support to ensure children understand the mechanics (drag and drop, swipe, touch to activate) of each game. To accomplish this, a Tutorial Game was included to introduce the child to each new skill. After a thorough review, we found the Tutorial Game and in-game supports were redundant. The new iStartSmart update will remove Tutorial Games.

Finally, many customers suggested we add a feature to use the front-facing camera when adding a new child photo. The new iStartSmart release will include the ability to take a selfie!

The Hatch team has been busy making these thoughtful updates to iStartSmart. We take our responsibility as your classroom technology partner seriously. We want you to feel confident in the design and appropriateness of the technology young children in your classrooms are using. You can trust Hatch to continue focusing on how research and science intersect with technology and provide you inspired products designed to assist children in being prepared for success in school and beyond.

How can you get the update?

The update will automatically install for all iStartSmart Elite subscribers with an internet connection. Not an iStartSmart Elite subscriber? Click here to learn more.

This update was inspired by feedback we received from customers. If you have any suggestions for product improvements click here, we would love to hear them.

Ginny Norton, President
Hatch Early Learning