Friday, May 15, 2015

Introducing Children to Technology

Education has always been important to my family. Sadly, the education system in California (as well as in the United States) has not always been up to the task.

New math. The subsequent "back to basics." Phonics instruction. "Look-say" approach to reading. "Whole language" approach to reading. No Child Left Behind. Growing reliance on standardized testing. Every Student Succeeds Act.

Everything in education is controversial: it's enough to make one go crazy! And now, children's use of technology seems to be on this out and then in, then possibly out rollercoaster.

Using Technology as an Educational Tool


How do you separate politically driven standards from learning practices that engage your kids?

I can't even begin to imagine how educators manage to keep up with all the changes, but the truly amazing ones continue to engage and to inspire their charges.

So rather than try to go it alone when it comes to introducing technology to Gates, we're following the lead of educators whom we trust.

Luckily for my family, there’s always been someone in our immediate family who was on top of the latest advancements in learning.

  • For me, my aunt was an elementary school educator; she supplied my mom with math and science textbooks throughout elementary and the middle grades and graded my work.
  • For Gates, my sister—her aunt—is an early childhood and elementary school educator.


enhancing student-led inquiry with technology in the classroom

In her classroom, as well as outside it, my sister Heather makes judicious use of technology to broaden and enrich the learning experience.

To introduce a concept, she uses her personal laptop to show educational videos. She uses the laptop in place of a projector or smart board because her school doesn't have budget for such niceties.

When kids have questions about something they've seen or heard in the video or in a book, she'll use her iPad to do an instant Internet search and quench their thirst for knowledge.

documenting student progress

During breaks, she uses her iPad to check email from parents. She also prepares a weekly newsletter for parents of her kids so that they know what's going on in the classroom, what skills the students have mastered, and how parents can help extend the classroom at home.

Educators and staff at Gates' elementary school use the cameras on their smartphones to capture experimentation, gardening, play, and other activities.

Fisher Price School Days Desk


incorporating technology at home

Gates is naturally curious. We satisfy this curiosity with lots of books, dramatic play, music, baking, and crafting.

And, now that she's older, we're beginning to incorporate technology, following her aunt's lead.

Gates and I play in her kitchen making dinner and whipping up "Chef's Specials" using in season ingredients. We watch videos that show how the ingredients are harvested and prepared. We also use the Internet to find out more about specific varietals, where they grow and when they are at their peak and how best they should be prepared. After our play kitchen session, we'll explore the local farmer's market, select our fruits and vegetables, and then prepare a dish together.

Incorporating Technology into Play


Are you showing your children how to use technology as an educational tool?

learning more

I hope Gates has an educator as devoted to her class as her aunt is to hers. But, until then, having examples of how to use technology to encourage Gates to ask more questions and try new things is incredibly helpful.

If you're interested in using technology with your little one, here are some resources you may find helpful:

Like this post? Curious about my introduction to technology and my beliefs on its use? Check out these other two posts:

genuinely eden

Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.

DISCLOSURE: This post was originally part of a promotion of Alter Your World, an Alt Summit project aimed at celebrating actions, big or small, that focus on good in the community.