Every. Single. Child. Deserves. An. Equitable. Chance. At. An. Education.
Adding the right technology to your early learning program takes time and shouldn't be rushed. (No one likes a pricey tech tool that sits on a shelf covered in dust because it didn't deliver on its promises.) So before little fingers ever touch a screen, it pays to have a plan.
As I sit here patiently waiting for the birth of my daughter in less than 3 months, I all too often picture her emerging from the womb with an iPad, securely in her grip, loaded with various instructional resources ready to guide me for the next 18 or so years of her life. While I have come to realize this will not be the case, it has made me think about the use and implementation of technology in the earliest of classrooms.
I have devoted my professional life to progressing the field of early childhood education through the use of technology. Being the leader of a mission-driven organization, much of my time has been dedicated to how innovation can help solve challenges facing our field. One of the challenges we face is how to make developmentally appropriate technology an integral part of every classroom.
There's a confusing dichotomy when it comes to technology and early learners. One side of research and evidence tells us technology encourages growth and creativity and even helps early learners build positive relationships.
Many people envision kindergarten classrooms as being filled with tiny four-and-five-year-olds bouncing into school brimming with excitement and ready for a day filled with play and learning. A lovely scenario, but as an educator, you know it's not realistic.
We’re living more of our lives on the internet and in front of screens than ever before. Every day, mobile technology more closely resembles magic: It has helped us become more connected and efficient, and opened up worlds that were once only visible in our imaginations. Classrooms have been impacted by technology just as much as other parts of the world, which can be exciting territory for educators.
"Move forward." Xavier is 4-years-old, and he is holding a tiny tile with an arrow on it. We are playing the robot-powered coding game, Matatalab, and I've just asked him what he thinks the tile means. Granted, I had prompted him generously.
Xavier's teacher, Ms. Owens, approaches curiously from across the room. "Did he speak?" she whispers. "Xavier doesn't speak that often."
In the commercial world, data capture, storage and analysis are the backbones of innovation and optimization. Knowing this, why are educational organizations slow to adopt strategies to leverage data? Educators and their organizations have some data (graded papers, exam metrics, and pass/fail tests), but the insights are limited. While corporations are able to track changes over time and make future predictions, most early education programs are stuck with vertical reporting, which only shows the here-and-now.
If we want all students to succeed we need to eradicate “teaching to the middle.” That approach won’t work because it leaves too many students out of the equation.
A new school year means loading up your classroom with supplies. But along with the usual fresh bottles of finger paint and Kleenex boxes, early childhood educators need to find an extra supply of a less tangible resource: time.
Running! Climbing! Jumping! These are important elements for optimal growth and development in young children. Not only are children strengthening bones and muscles, but they are also building their brains! Young children need time for active, full body play every day.
Since 1949, the month of May has been observed as Mental Health Month in the United States. The purpose of Mental Health Month is to raise awareness about the importance of Mental Health and stop the stigma associated with it. Mental health is defined as our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It effects how we think, feel, and act in response to events that have happened in our lives.
Normal has changed! For my family, the new normal includes my husband and me working full-time from home while caring for and educating our 3.5-year-old son. Even though we are approaching the 3-month mark of the stay-at-home order, we are still getting used to the shift in our day-to-day routines, roles, and responsibilities. Meanwhile, our son is still adjusting to being without classmates, friends, teachers, and his prior pre-school days packed with engaging activities.
Do you remember asking your parents or other family members to tell you a story when you were younger? I sure do! I know my parents can still hear the echo of my whiney plea: “Tell me a story!” That said, the memories created when my family relented and told me real stories about their past, or made-up stories about the future, are among my favorites!
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! (Though a week feels so insufficient.) Now more than ever, parents across the country have appreciation for everything teachers do for their children. Teachers are selflessly motivated to care for, influence, and inspire development in children. Every day, as we interact with members of our community, find comfort in books, and witness scientific and engineering feats, we see the positive impact of teachers.
What is a cloud? Why do boats float? How does a car work? Young children have an innate ability to ask questions like this every day, in fact, researchers estimate that preschoolers ask an amazing 76 information-seeking questions per hour?! Since curiosity is at the heart of all innovation, the earlier we help children harness and direct their interest in exploring the world around them, the more motivated they will be to uncover the answers!
The combination of closed libraries and my son’s constant request for the same stories to be read aloud prompted me to research and develop some tips and tricks to help us all maximize daily read-alouds and repetition. Because these are research-based, we can all feel good about integrating these techniques into our daily routine!
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, working from home full-time wasn’t an adjustment for me; I’ve been doing that for years. However, working from home full-time with a two-year-old (Jack) and four-year-old (Frankie) at home was uncharted territory for me. It’s a balancing act that millions of parents are suddenly trying to master quickly and with a little bit of grace, if we’re lucky!
Allow me to set the scene: I am propped on a stepstool in my daughter Lucy’s bathroom. I’m balancing my laptop on my knees as Lucy enjoys her 2nd popsicle (sugar-free = lunch?), plays, and splashes! I already feel like this a “mom win” because the popsicle in the bath makes for an almost-no-mess, very little stickiness situation! It is 11:41 AM, and I am on a conference call with my team, and because we are all working from home, our cameras are on as we connect virtually.
Your alarm clock goes off. You have about 30 minutes until your child wakes up (if they haven’t already), and you are thinking about all of the conference calls you have today or the big project that is due at the end of the week. You ask yourself, “How am I going to get all of this done?” And then, “How am I going to get all of the this done AND make sure my child is engaged all day?”
As our country works together to implement practices aimed at mitigating the public health crisis caused by COVID-19, Hatch is committed to helping early childhood programs identify solutions to provide children with a high-quality early childhood education while implementing guidance from public health officials. It is important that we all implement health and safety precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The use of technology in the early childhood classroom has been a conversation of debate for many years. Parents and teachers alike have concerns regarding screen time and the appropriateness of using technology with our youngest learners. However, now more than ever technology can support families and teachers during this unique school year.
Because of the pandemic, a lot of us teachers are starting the year off in complicated settings. Settings vary from school to school, and district to district. A lot of us have adopted a 100% virtual model, where our students stay at home, and we can provide instruction from the comfort of our own homes.
August is one of my favorite months of the year. Here in the South, it signals that fall is on its way and that it’s time for our kiddos to go back to school. My daughter, Nora, turned three in April and is going into her second year of preschool. Although our local school district has decided to host school virtually for the first nine weeks, my daughter’s school will be returning to in-person instruction.
Typically this time of year, we as parents would be hitting stores looking for school supplies, back-to-school clothes, and new lunch boxes. Instead, many of us are trying to figure out how to manage our daily lives with the added pressures of online learning and young children in the home.
For a long time, we have known that a child’s earliest learning is focused on motor development. An infant’s early movement experiences are beneficial to optimal brain development, and the connection between moving and learning continues well beyond the child’s first steps. With that in mind, it is imperative to encourage movement in every child’s play.
First Days of School… One of my earliest memories revolves around my first day of kindergarten. Living outside of Boston, our house was right next to the elementary school. My mom took my hand in hers, and we walked together towards the beginning of my academic career. Donning a new yellow dress, tennis shoes, pigtails, and a yarn lanyard with my name printed in big letters, I was ready to go; in hindsight, I am certain my mom and I shared similar emotions: uncertainty, excitement, and anticipation!