YOUNG CHILDREN NEED SPECIAL SKILLS – and Technology is not a panacea

We can overlook the rudiments of education so essential for the development of young children. It iOS important to guard against oversight or neglect.
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THE SKILLS YOUNG CHILDREN NEED

A recent media story confirmed that technology is being promoted as an essential and necessary learning tool. This should be a focus for younger and younger children. An Australian preschool was reported as requiring enrolled children to bring their own devices (BYOD) for use within their programs. The infusion of technology into learning has been moving down the grades and is now inserting itself into the earliest years of learning.

Australian curriculum authorities are recognising IT by inserting technological skills, including programming, into learning requirement for students from Year Five upward. I would suggest that in time, the formalisation of an IT curriculum will reach into Middle Primary and Early Childhood Years.

What really counts

This focus impacts upon children, their parents and teachers. Rather than young children being ‘IT ready’, it would be far better if they were prepared for life by greater attention to necessary but often discounted personal needs. Overlooking the foundational needs of development, means children beginning their formal education may have significant personal readiness deficits.

Many young children don’t understand the need to care for their belongings. Getting and using things, then putting them away is not practised. Toilet training, hand washing, nose blowing, rubbish disposal and other rudiments of living are still developing for many preschool and early childhood children. Home and childcare training in these practices is built upon at school. Emphasis upon personal development is a far more important priority than focusing on specialist IT skills.

Teaching children how to eat their school snacks and lunches has become the lot of teachers. This includes chewing food, not talking with full mouths and not spreading food and drink around tabletops or onto floors.

The teaching of social attributes and personal skills are often defined as prime ‘loco parentis’ teacher responsibilities. Desk tidiness, classroom cleanliness, use of bag lockers and other tidiness procedures are reinforced at school. However children commencing their school years should not be introduced to personal and social attributes of living for the first time. Teachers should be building on what has been started for children by parents at home and carers in child care centres.

The need for computer literacy and IT readiness are being put forward as necessities for children at increasingly younger ages. These skills will come with time and educational exposure. It is far better for children to commence school with personal readiness and social confidence.

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