Academic journal article Education

Computer Integration into the Early Childhood Curriculum

Academic journal article Education

Computer Integration into the Early Childhood Curriculum

Article excerpt

Navin and Mark are playing at the computer in their preschool classroom. Like the rest of their classmates, these four-year-old children fearlessly experiment with computer as they navigate through the art program they are using. As they draw and paint on the computer screen, Mark and Navin talk about their creation. "Let's try the stamps" insists Navin as they change the background color from white to green. "okey, I want butterflies in our picture, and they have some in the stamp part," Mark says. The two children work to negotiate additional elements of their project as play continues over the next fifteen minutes. Once the picture is complete, they print it out, show it to two interested classmates, and then take off for the block comer to engage in additional play.

(Henniger, 2002, p. 478)

Introduction

Currently, several complex issues influence early childhood education. All of these issues mirror the society we live in and all will affect early childhood teachers and young children's education. These issues as described by Krogh and Slentz (2001) are, school entry age, inclusion of children with disabilities in regular classrooms, violence in schools, more or less structure in curriculum and instruction, and the integration of computers into early childhood classrooms.

One of the current curriculum issues influencing the education of young children is the integration of computers into the early childhood curriculum. We live in a world dominated by computer technology, and computers have begun to appear in schools, even at the preschool level. Since the early 1980s, the rate of implementation of computer technology into Canadian and American schools has grown exponentially (Armstrong & Casement, 1998). The scene described above is becoming more and more common in early childhood classrooms (Haugland, 1997) and the use of computers is growing, such that almost all preschools have computers. Clements and Swaminathan (1995) reported that "in the mid-1980s only 25% of the licensed preschools had computers. Today almost every preschool has a computer and the ratio of computer to students has dropped from 1:125 in 1984 to 1:22 in 1990" (p. 275). In the future, the use of computers by young children is likely to become even more prevalent. The Minister of Education in Kuwait, for instance, has recommended that computers be placed in all Kuwaiti kindergarten classrooms for the purpose of integrating them into all curricular areas (Kuwait Ministry of Education, 2001).

Despite the increased use of computers in early childhood classrooms, there are still arguments against the appropriateness of computer integration into preschool and kindergarten curricula (Alliance for Childhood, 2000; Armstrong & Casement, 1998; Healy, 1996). Major concerns are focused on the impact of computers on the children's social and emotional development.

The potential benefits of computer integration into the early childhood curriculum, on the other hand, are supported by current research (Clements, 1994; Haugland, 1996; Haugland & Wright, 1997; Hohmann, 1990; NAEYC, 1996; Swaminathan & Wright, 2003). It has been reported that the use of computers by young children facilitates cognitive development by improving creative thinking and problemsolving skills and by improving their social interaction and language skills. For instance, Shade (1996a) concludes that "computer use with young children in early childhood has been shown to have major, positive impact on social, emotional, language, and cognitive development" (p. 43). Such integration involves using computers for supporting classroom themes and activities, increasing children's learning and development, and accomplishing the curricular goals in the classroom.

Early childhood institution also supported the integration of computers into early childhood curriculum. The National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the leading accreditation organization in the early childhood field, supports the integration of computers in early childhood classrooms. …

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