Never in a million years would I have imagined that I’d be thinking about whether or not my preschool daughter needed a computer. Never in a trillion years could I have guessed that the answer would be yes. Man, things sure are different than when I was in preschool! Now, children who enter grade school without computer experience are coming in with a disadvantage. Never wanting my Ayva to be left behind, I’d started giving her a little screen time with my computer and iPad. Like most kids, she really took to using them, too. From signing in using the password by herself, to mastering the mousepad, this girl is a computer wiz!
Of course, being the
Tiger Mom concerned parent that I am, I have researched and found the best ways to engage my preschooler with technology. If you’re ready to introduce your little one to technology, here are some digital literacy tips to keep in mind before you get started.
Use a Kid Friendly Computer
Ayva has been introduced to technology by whatever computer I happened to be using at the time. When she started getting older and able do more things independently, it became important to find a computer that she could use on her own. The Samsung ChromeBook was at the top of our list when we began our search for a device that our preschooler could use. As Educators, both Terrence and I love the way that Google enhances education both on and offline. The Samsung ChromeBook allows us to take advantage of all of the greatness that Google offers. There’s no complicated set-up, and it even weighs less than other computers, so I don’t have to worry about Ayva dropping it when she’s moving from room to room (as preschoolers do!). Staples has the Samsung ChromeBook for $249, a small investment that can make a great impact on your child and their digital literacy.
Stay In Control
Regardless of which computer you choose, before you let your child get on, you have to make it clear that you will be in charge of how they use the computer. Talk to your little one about appropriate ways to use the computer. Show them how to take care of it, and let them know that it’s a privilege to be able to use it. Your conversation with a preschooler will be a lot different than if you were speaking to an older child, but it’s still important to set limits and stay in control. You’ll absolutely want to set up parental controls at this age to ensure your little one doesn’t come in contact with any inappropriate content. You can download a control program, or if you go with the Samsung ChromeBook, you can just add a parental control extension to your device.
Find Age Appropriate Computer Activities
According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), there is a developmental progression in children’s use of tools and materials, typically moving from exploration to mastery, and then to functional subordination (using the tools to accomplish other tasks) (NAEYC, 2012). Basically, let your child be a child on the computer! Don’t try to push them into coding at 4 years old (unless they show signs of being a tech genius, then, totally let them code). Instead, find programs like ABCMouse (one of our favorites), and other apps that will let them get acquainted with the various functions of the computer like the mouse, the return and space keys, and typing letters on the keyboard. Other activities that are super fun for young children include video chats with loved ones, and letting them make videos of themselves. You can also check out my list of best apps for preschoolers based on television shows as a starting point.
Just like with television, it can be tempting to let the computer be a babysitter. Don’t do it! The more you engage with your little one while they’re learning to use the computer, the more they’ll get out of it. It’s like any learning tool. When you participate and are present as your child explores technology, their experience will be greatly enhanced. You’ll be able to help them out when they need it, and notice when they’ve mastered one phase and are ready for a greater tech challenge. Seriously, what if your preschooler is the next Mark Zuckerberg? You’ll never know if you’re not engaged!
Listen, folks. Don’t try to fight it. Technology is here to stay. I absolutely believe in learning through play. I love Ayva’s imagination, and encourage her to create every single day. The thing is, times have changed, and we have to keep up with the times. So, in addition to Play-Doh, painting, and imaginative play, we’ve added 30 minutes of computer time. For a 4 year old. Never in a million years…
Disclosure: I received a Samsung ChromeBook from Staples for this review. All opinions are my own.