Channelling Children’s Natural Interest in Technology Productively


Channelling Children’s Natural Interest in Technology Productively

Kristīne Zvaigzne, Head of the “CreaKids” Preschool Branch

Children born in the last decade naturally have a strong interest in technology and smart devices. Quick access to information, skill development, socialization, creativity, and digital literacy are just a few of the many advantages offered by technology. By using technology as a tool for learning and growth, we – parents and educators – can prepare children for a future where technological proficiency will be highly important.

The joint task of preschools and parents is to combine the use of technology with other play and learning opportunities, ensuring that the time spent with smart devices is as meaningful and valuable as possible. For children, technology is like candy – if we prohibit it entirely, we might encourage an excessive and unhealthy interest in it. However, by integrating technology into the learning process, we can foster its meaningful and creative use, as well as motivate children to learn and explore new things.

From Projectors to Music Devices and Cameras

Sometimes, when hearing about the use of technology in early childhood education, we might imagine children spending the entire day with a tablet in their hands. However, digital tools and technology offer much broader possibilities – it’s not just about smartphones or tablets. Digital tools include projectors, which can be used to play games together, watch videos and photos; music devices that are useful in various movement games; and cameras, which can make nature walks more exciting. It’s important to remember that these are just auxiliary tools to make daily activities more interesting and diverse.

Enhancing Learning with Creative and Interactive Activities

Together with colleagues from other countries, we have created the platform, which compiles various ideas on how to integrate digital tools into the learning process and play activities. Of course, this is just one of many websites and platforms we use in our daily work, but we already see that it helps inspire other educators. How can we make learning more engaging for children with a bit of digital support? The possibilities are many and varied. For example, a digital wheel displayed on a large screen allows children to spin it with a click, selecting a task to perform, a song to dance to, or a nature item to find in the forest. If we are learning about travel, we can immediately view images or videos from different countries around the world with the help of a projector and screen. We can take virtual museum tours or imaginary plane trips. Similarly, if we are discussing theatre and cinema visits, we can create and scan QR codes for tickets, which helps children understand how to behave in such settings creatively. Digital devices can also make hikes more engaging by following maps and searching for specific objects along the way. Digital tools make lessons more creative and interactive, but this does not exclude the use of traditional teaching methods, physical activities, socialization, or group work. On the contrary – using all of the above, various methods complement each other, allowing children to see and explore new processes in-depth, for example, in nature.

Fostering Imagination and Creativity

A question may arise: why not make the aforementioned wheel out of cardboard or use a globe to find countries around the world? Of course, that’s possible too, but we must consider that digitalization has entered almost every aspect of our lives today. By integrating digital tools into preschool, we not only make the learning process more interesting but also help children develop useful life skills. As an educator with ten years of experience, I want to emphasize that the key is balance – between digital and traditional, emphasizing a diverse learning process. It’s no secret that preschool children quickly lose interest and motivation if the learning process is monotonous. Digital tools often serve as an idea bank, allowing the same topic to be explored in various ways – watching videos, creating image galleries, listening to music, etc. With digital tools, we can create an orienteering game and go into nature, searching for specific places or items, taking photos, collecting various natural materials, and creating collages. The possibilities are endless. The most important thing is to approach the use of technology creatively.

Enhancing Literacy and Writing Skills

Currently, there is widespread discussion about the need to develop children’s reading and writing skills – digital tools can also help in this area. For example, a “magic chest” is created on the screen, containing a surprise. The image helps children imagine this chest and stimulates the desire to open it. However, to open the chest, they need to acquire a code of several letters or numbers. Each element of the code is obtained by completing a task – writing their name, performing a physical activity, reading a sentence, etc. Interaction with the smart device is minimal – just entering the code, but it helps maintain interest and motivates children to complete all tasks.

Channelling Natural Interest Productively

Digital tools in preschool are also a way to channel children’s natural interest in smart devices and other technologies meaningfully. If children born in the technological age are so interested in various digital tools, why not use this interest to foster a love for learning? Banning digital tools and smart devices entirely would be like completely eliminating sweets from a child’s diet – it might only increase an excessive and unhealthy interest. The forbidden fruit is the sweetest. If we do not allow children to eat sweets in their daily lives, we might find ourselves in a situation where, at an event or visit where sweets are available, the child will overeat them. Similarly, with technology – if we prohibit it entirely, at some point, the child might become overly engrossed in it.

The Role of Teachers and Parents as Examples

To channel children’s interest in technology meaningfully and maintain a healthy balance between screen time and other activities, both preschool and parents’ roles and examples are crucial. If we all reduce our screen time and engage in other activities, such as board games, walks in the fresh air, etc., it will serve as a positive example for children. If a child asks a question to which we, adults, do not have an answer, we can use technology to find the answer together and create a small research project – this way, the child gains not only new knowledge but also valuable time spent with parents.

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