Technology is an integral part of children’s everyday lives and at home they come in contact with mobile phones, television remote controls and toys that have buttons and particular functions. Whilst outside the home they see cash registers, bar-code scanners, traffic lights, automatic doors, security cameras, the list can go on and on. Our early years settings need to reflect a familiar technological environment where we can build on children’s experience and out of their natural curiosity they will be able to explore not only how technology works but how it fits into their world.
ICT supports learning across the curriculum and can enhance educational opportunities. It encourages creativity, problem solving, risk taking, discussion and purposeful and exploratory play. This demands early childhood educators to be skilled and confident in ICT. They must understand that through ict children are developing an emergent digital literacy whilst also developing skills on how to use tools and applications. We need to provide opportunities for children to learn about ICT as well as to learn with ICT. They must be given opportunities to access applications which whilst they are fun are full of educational potential. A variety of applications are needed to encourage a range of development including language, problem solving, self expression and creativity. This in turn will lead to the children being intrinsically motivated to learn.
Integrating ICT with play and project work will make it relevant to the children. ICT needs to be a natural part of the learning environment and used in a meaningful context. Digital drawings can be made into cards for special occasions. Stories can also be created from the children’s digital drawings. During role play which is central in young children’s process in learning,digital toys and manipulatives which are functional or pretend technological toys and artefacts provide symbols for children to engage and interact with.
Integrating ICT into the curriculum recognises the notion that it is used as a tool and not as just a skill. Continous use of integrated ICT by young children living in this technological age ensures the development of childrent’s emergent awareness and positive disposition towards digital literacy.