Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Technology in the Classrooms

 In this day and age, technology is unavoidable.  We are a society addicted to the convenience and availability of various forms of technology, and in order to keep up we must learn to navigate at an increasingly younger age.  There are many merits to exposing students to technology; not only will they learn the workings of computers which will prove to be useful later, but computer and video games provide both learning and fun to children of all ages.
Video games are fun because of many key points.  They teach challenge and strategy, which boosts critical thinking.  The element of surprise in most video games keeps them interesting, and the replay ability allows for a game to be replayed with varying results.  Through the use of video games, students boost memorization and context skills, language comprehension, manual dexterity, and more.
According to the NAEYC, “when used intentionally and appropriately, technology and interactive media are effective tools to support learning and development.”  As with most activities, medium is key.  Video and computer games should not replace interactive and live learning, and the time that younger children spend in front of a screen should be limited.
At Kids R Kids, we incorporate the use of smart boards into our weekly schedules.  By using the ABC Mouse program, students work on a variety of skills including color/letter/number recognition, and are able to listen to songs and stories pertaining to the weekly theme.  Each class is given a time slot to go to the computer lab every week, and students are able to explore the many different activities that the computers offer. 

-Emily Lian, Education Director
Early Childhood Education Expert

Enrolling Pre-Schoolers in Extra Curricular Activities

No matter the age, extra-curricular activities take form in many ways.  From community groups to painting to dancing to sports to playing musical instruments, these activities can take place daily, weekly, or even monthly. There are numerous merits to allowing children to engage in a wide variety of activities.
There are many lessons to be learned outside of formal academics.  Children learn routine by attending regular practices or lessons.  They learn the rules of competition and the importance of sportsmanship by performing and competing against peers.  They learn about perseverance and hard work to gain the results that they want.  Teamwork is learned by working cooperatively with others, and celebrating the successes of all.  Extra-curricular activities allow for creativity and exploration; when engaged in different activities, children are able to broaden their horizons and explore their interests and talents.  All of this can be achieved when enrolling children as young as preschoolers into different activities.  In the long-term, students who continue staying active outside of school learn valuable skills such as time management, prioritizing, and making long-term commitments.
There are many considerations to be made when enrolling children’s activities.  Think about the child’s interests and abilities, as well as the family’s time and budget.  Thoroughly research and tour the facilities, programs, and those who are running the activities.  Remember not to overwhelm the child, taking into consideration the fact that preschoolers need unrestricted free play in their schedules as well.  And most of all, don’t forget to have fun!  Extra-curricular activities are best when your child (and you) enjoy it!

-Emily Lian, Educational Director
Early Childhood Education Expert 

Sign Language: Not Just for the Hearing Impaired

Teaching children sign language from a young age is beneficial in many ways.  Because hand-eye coordination develops faster than verbal skills, children can effectively learn to communicate before they can talk.  This communication can be viewed as a two-way street; caregivers can be more observant and responsive when they know what the children need, and children are able to express their knowledge and feelings.
According to studies conducted by the National Institute of Health, “24 month old babies using baby sign language were on average talking more like 27 or 28 month olds, representing more than a 3-month old advantage over the non-signers.  The babies using baby sign language were also putting together significantly longer sentences.” This advantage continues through the time children begin school; the studies showed these kids who had learned sign language had overall higher reading skills in elementary school than those who didn’t.

Not only do children who learn sign language gain an intellectual jump start, being able to communicate has a number of social and emotional benefits as well.  By using sign language, children learn to trust their caregivers, boost self-confidence, and build self-esteem.  Children grow emotionally because they are less frustrated if they can communicate; consequently, biting and other aggressive behaviors can be reduced this way.

-Emily Lian, Education Director
Early Childhood Education Expert

The Importance of Family Engagement in Early Childhood Education


Successfully teaching children of all ages requires effort from a combination of teachers and families.  The most important factor in promoting family engagement is building strong relationships between the two.  To achieve this, communication is key.
There is a strong correlation between family involvement and student success.  According to NAEYC’s Dr. Kyle Snow, “Meaningful family engagement in children’s early learning supports school readiness and later academic successes.  Parental involvement is a critical element of high-quality early care and education.”  It is the goal of every school to keep families informed and updated on the happenings of the classroom, and ours is no different.  We strive to open the lines of communication using our Family Information Boards, car talk boards, newsletters, progress reports, etc.  Parents are encouraged to keep up with what our students are learning, and teachers are always available to discuss concerns and progress.
It is important for teachers and parents to stay on the same page and to communicate so the children’s well-being is always prioritized first.  They should use each other as valuable resources, as children spend all of their time with either set of caregivers and there is always information to be shared about the child’s routine, emotional state, and out-of-the-ordinary events.

According to The American Family: Understanding Its Changing Dynamics and Place In Society, family engagement is defined as, “the participation of parents in every facet of the education and development of children from birth to adulthood.”  Parents who take responsibility of their children’s well-being by actively enforcing what their children learn in school help ensure that their children are getting everything they can out of their early education.

-Emily Lian, Education Director
Early Childhood Education Expert