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.

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