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.
We have all read the studies and we all know that the nature of children’s interactions with teachers are the basis for comprehensive learning; and that quality is all about relationships. In a study published by Ansari and Pianta (2018), they state that “Quality refers to positive and proximal interactions between adults and children in a learning environment. These interactions form the bedrock of academic, social and emotional skills for very young children that facilitate long-term learning.” The research supports high quality interactions between children and teachers as the most important criteria for a child’s long-term learning. Yet, in so many classrooms across the country, teachers are bound to the rigor of proving that the children in their classroom are progressing towards school readiness. All too often, they are stressed about being assessed on their ability to positively interact with children, while ensuring they are mindfully supportive of the myriad of additional accountability requirements placed on them daily.
These studies are important and highlight the significance of changing the landscape of early childhood classrooms. For me, an experience with my niece reinforced the practical implications. I took my niece to her pre-Kindergarten class, taking her inside the classroom, and expecting to see the typical pre-K teacher: engaged, excited to greet her students and welcoming to parents. What I actually saw was something far more concerning. I witnessed this poor teacher’s stress over collecting documentation and data, about the children’s ability to come into the classroom successfully, pick up their name tag, put away their things and wash their hands. She barely looked up from her clipboard to greet each child. I asked if I could stay and help for a few hours.
Sadly, this continued throughout the morning. Fewer and fewer interactions with children, and more and more documentation collected. I asked the teacher what she did with all of these notes on pieces of paper and her response was even more disheartening. She shared that while she would love to use the data, the process of getting it into her assessment tool was even more cumbersome than collecting the data. With the time she had left in her day, she really just wanted to hug the children in her class and make sure they felt loved. I can tell you, as committed as I was to find a way to make the lives of teachers and children better before, I was even more focused and unrelentless to find one now! As the leader of technology innovations for the early childhood classroom, Hatch is pushing the boundaries on how to solve these challenges.
What does Hatch do? We prepare early learners for success by creating play-based technologies that engage and instruct children while providing teachers with objective data and standards-based curricular experiences to help each child succeed.
In August of last year, Ignite by Hatch was released. Ignite is Kindergarten Readiness Accelerator for early learners that helps teachers engage children with interactive experiences, objectively assess skills in seven domains of development and individualize learning for each child. The platform provides children with over 200 scaffolded interactive experiences, captures data on their individual progress, analyzes the progress and provides teachers with personalized curriculum experiences. These experiences are all based on a child’s skill level and ability to inform their teaching and interactions outside of technology. Ignite covers over 50% of assessment items in the most popular observation tools used in early childhood automating collection, analysis and instructional support as children play. The tool is saving teachers multiple hours a week, allowing them to spend more time with children and strengthening their knowledge of where a child is progressing towards Kindergarten readiness.
In January of this year, we hired an industry veteran to lead our newly formed Research department and we will begin publishing analysis of our user cohorts in the summer of this year. Initial indications illustrate that Ignite by Hatch moves children appropriately towards Kindergarten readiness and the data is coming from the fingers of children, which is unbiased and objective and strengthens the proof of Ignite.
Hatch will continue to transform early childhood classrooms by using objective child outcomes data to personalize experiences, which are essential to a child’s lifelong learning journey. More importantly, we will continue to help teachers have the time in their day, to put down the clipboard, to hug the children in their classroom and ensure they feel loved, heard and cared for.