Mixing children and technology needn’t be a daunting prospect! As adults it is easy for us to assume that technology and particularly computing is far too complicated for the under fives. This however is completely untrue, as most young children do not have any anxiety about using and exploring any new device. I am sure that many of you have had to rescue your phones or remote controls from your small child already or have had the nightmare of the jam sandwich posted into the video recorder! This shows that your child is keen to explore the technology in the home, has probably watched you using it and picked up a certain amount of knowledge from that.
Children can be encouraged to use basic computer programs. An excellent one to start with is Tux Paint, a free program that you can download. This program is very basic and user friendly, allowing even very small children to create pictures on the screen. It has audio prompts and picture icons so that the children can easily see which tool they want to use. Programs like this have the bonus of being able to print out what the child has created which can then be proudly displayed.
There are also a huge number of programmable toys that your child can play with. In school we use Roamers and Bee-Bots, which are very easily programmed to follow a set of instructions. You can also build this into a game of accuracy by building towers to be knocked down or drawing a maze on a piece of paper for the child to try and follow. You will be surprised how quickly the children can visualise where they need the toy to go!
Why not let your child use your old digital camera? You could set them a task, such as photographing their favourite toys or see if they can take a picture of the family pet and so on. These pictures could then be put into another program. For example, you could put them into Paint and let your child improve them, put them into PowerPoint and create a slideshow or just email them to Granny!
Above all, using technology at this age needs to be fun and engaging for you and your child. Who knows what fun you could have!
Article written by Miss K Spillett (Junior & Infant ICT / DT Specialist)