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Sep 11

Laptops for kindergarten students

A new pilot has just started in Canada (link) to supply 4 year old kindergarten students with laptops, to be used in the classroom. During the pilot, the computers will be used “in both reading circle and outside the building to explore nature”.

Huh, what is that I thought? Exploring nature with a laptop?

Anyway, the people behind it find it important that “from the beginning, children will experience the technology that will be a part of their lives”. Well, it’s debatable whether that is something desirable, there’s lots of technology that you don’t want your child to experience at age 4: Game consoles, certain websites etc.

I encourage the use of computers in classrooms as a helping tool, but for kindergarten students to walk around with laptops (think about the weight they have to carry around!) sounds to me like one step too far. Although the mentioned “enhancements in their intelligence, non-verbal skills and problem-solving” are undoubtedly substantial, it probably does not help their social and emotional development. Guidance by a skilled teacher in this experiment will be very important.

Nevertheless I’m curious how this pilot works out, and whether these children are really better off later in life. The people behind the idea claim that “The younger they’re exposed to it, the better”. Well, I guess only the future can tell.

2 comments

  1. Helga Mays

    Hi I live in Canada. I’m Early Educator .I believe Children need to explore and develop fine motor skills and get exercise running around outside. I think laptops have their place but should be limited to certain amount of time just like any. I have little boys at school all they talk about is watching televsion.Playing games on their X-boxs and Gameboys and on their computors all the time. If we offer this in the classroom it continues. Is it being educational ? or is it a babysitting service in the name of eduaction. A good question.Just like T.V it is very one sided.I think a lot of other skills may suffer(Like social skills). That is not healthy.I think everything must have a balance. I am curious what others think. Helga

  2. Jessica

    I agree with the use of laptops (or computers) early in a childs life. When my parents were young, of course computers were scarce, and when I was young computers didn’t come into play until I was a teen. In todays day and age, the sooner you know how to properly use a computer the better. That way when they are teens they don’t missuse them. If you teach a child that a computer (or laptop) is a learning tool, they use it as such. If you leave them willy nilly with one they learn to use it as a toy. From what I have seen with some parents and caregivers today is that the only “structured” learning is done in school. Bring the laptops to school, but teach the children how to use them wisely. If you notice the electronics kids talk about at home are all for play, and all the electronics at school (although scarce)are used for learning. So like I said, teach the kids in school how to use a laptop to learn with. Of course that doesn’t mean that every minute of school is in front of a laptop. You encourage learning your alphabet in school in kindergarden, but that doesn’t mean that every moment in class is about the alphabet. There are plenty of social activities and such going on that incorporating a laptop shouldn’t be that absurd. Not to mention that the whole alphabet is right there at your fingertips with a laptop and believe me, you need some fine motor skills to type on a laptop or run that tiny mouse! 🙂

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