Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but at least we can prepare children for their future." With the rapidly changing world around us, it has become increasingly essential to prepare children for the future.
This blog discusses the importance of preparing children for the future, and how to merge preschools and technology to achieve this goal.
The Human Brain and Early Learning
A child's early brain development is a critical period for learning and growth. During the first few years of life, the brain undergoes rapid development, with neural connections being formed at a rate of more than 1 million per second. This period of brain development sets the foundation for future learning, behavior, and health.
Early experiences, such as talking, reading, and playing, play a crucial role in shaping a child's brain development. For example, positive interactions with caregivers can stimulate the development of neural connections in the brain, leading to improved cognitive and social-emotional outcomes. On the other hand, negative experiences, such as neglect, trauma or other types of adversity, can impair brain development and lead to long-term negative effects on a child's health and well-being.
Research has shown that early childhood education programs can have a significant impact on a child's brain development and future success. High-quality early childhood programs, such as those that provide stimulating environments and responsive caregiving, can help promote brain development and improve outcomes in areas such as language development, social-emotional skills, and academic achievement.
In addition, learning through play is an important aspect of early childhood education that can promote brain development. Play-based learning activities, such as building blocks or imaginative play, can stimulate the development of cognitive, language, and social-emotional skills.
Preparing Children for the Future
With 65% of today's preschoolers expected to work in careers that do not exist yet, the question is when we should start preparing our children for their future. As the world around us has changed drastically in the past 20 years, developmental science has entirely changed its outlook on how a child's brain processes information. The environment that a child grows up in has a drastic effect on their life going forward. Therefore, it is essential to prepare children for the future that awaits them.
One strategy for preparing children for the future is to encourage digital literacy. In today's digital age, it is essential to teach children how to use technology effectively and safely. This includes teaching them how to navigate digital platforms, use technology for learning, and understand the implications of their digital footprint. By developing these skills, children can be better equipped to succeed in an increasingly digital world.
Another important strategy is to foster critical thinking skills. With the rise of artificial intelligence, critical thinking skills are becoming increasingly important. Parents and educators can encourage critical thinking by teaching children how to analyze information, evaluate sources, and ask questions. These skills can help children to make informed decisions and to navigate complex issues in the future.
In addition to digital literacy and critical thinking, social-emotional learning is also essential for preparing children for the future. As technology use increases, it is crucial to ensure that children develop strong social-emotional skills. This includes teaching them empathy, self-awareness, and self-regulation, which can help them navigate social interactions and build strong relationships.
Merging Preschools and Technology
Preschools can merge technology and traditional methodologies to prepare children for the future. Traditional methodologies can be researched alongside current methodologies to find a merge between the two. While technology and media should be used to enhance the learning experience, it is crucial to note that it should not replace traditional activities such as running, jumping, climbing, and playing. Instead, technology should be used to make the learning experience more exciting and relevant to children.
One example of merging technology and traditional methodologies is using iPads to enhance preschool learning experiences. Studies show that when preschoolers are given activities to do with iPads, they are engaged and can learn perform meaningful learning tasks. This demonstrates how children as young as one year old can show other children how to navigate technology.
In addition, the implementation of digital literacy programs in early childhood education suggest positive results. Technology can enhance a child's learning experience while still encouraging them to interact with their physical environment. These programs can also be easily and readily adapted for children with special needs, which highlights how adaptable technology can be in different settings.
Tips for parents and educators:
Joo, Young Sun, Katherine Magnuson, Greg J. Duncan, Holly S. Schindler, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, and Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest. "What works in early childhood education programs?: A meta–analysis of preschool enhancement programs." Early Education and Development 31, no. 1 (2020): 1-26.
DeMaster, D., Bick, J., Johnson, U., Montroy, J. J., Landry, S., & Duncan, A. F. (2019). Nurturing the preterm infant brain: leveraging neuroplasticity to improve neurobehavioral outcomes. Pediatric research, 85(2), 166-175.
Nelson, C. A., Bhutta, Z. A., Harris, N. B., Danese, A., & Samara, M. (2020). Adversity in childhood is linked to mental and physical health throughout life. bmj, 371.
Otterborn, A., Schönborn, K., & Hultén, M. (2019). Surveying preschool teachers’ use of digital tablets: general and technology education related findings. International journal of technology and design education, 29(4), 717-737.
Tohara, A. J. T. (2021). Exploring digital literacy strategies for students with special educational needs in the digital age. Turkish Journal of Computer and Mathematics Education (TURCOMAT), 12(9), 3345-3358.