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Why Kindergartners Must Learn Technology

  • Published on April 12, 2019

Jacqui Murray - Why Kindergartners must learn technology

Today I am delighted to introduce you to Jacqui Murray, the Tech Teacher, who is able to answer all your questions about using technology in schools.

Jacqui’s blog Ask a Tech Teacher is very informative. It is packed with helpful advice for both teachers and parents on children’s use of technology and the suitability of tools and software for use in different situations and with different age groups, especially in the classroom. If I need to know anything about technology, Jacqui’s blog is an excellent resource.

As Jacqui is often asked questions about teaching Kindergartners to Tech, a topic that is dear to her, this is the topic of discussion in this post. Please feel free to ask Jacqui any additional questions you may have in the comment section at the end!

Note: Jacqui is based in the US and the kindergarteners she refers to are 5-to-6-year-olds.

Welcome to readilearn, Jacqui. Over to you.

When I started teaching technology almost twenty years ago, I taught K-8, three classes in each grade every week. I was buried under lesson plans, grades, and parent meetings. I remember suggesting to my principal that he ease my schedule by eliminating tech for kindergartners. They wouldn’t miss anything if I started them in first or second grade.

And back then, that was true.

Even a decade ago, technology was an extra class in student schedules where now, it is a life skill. Today, my teacher colleagues tell me kids arrive at school already comfortable in the use of iPads and smartphones, doing movements like swipe, squeeze, and flick better than most adults. Many teachers, even administrators, use that as the reason why technology training isn’t needed for them, arguing, “They’re digital natives.”

Jacqui Murray - kindergartners need to learn to use technology

In fact, because they arrive at school thinking they know what they’re doing on a digital device is exactly why teaching them technology, starting in kindergarten, is critical.

I see a few of you shaking your heads. Does your school think kindergartners don’t need tech classes? Let me give you four good reasons why they do, to arm you for the next time you have to defend it.

They arrive with bad habits

Parents love encouraging their kids to play with iPads and iPhones but it’s not their job to teach them how to do it right. And I’m fine with that. I’ll do it but I need to warn everyone: Bad tech habits are much (much) easier to break if I catch them in kindergarten than third grade. Here are a few that these digital natives arrive to my kindergarten classes with:

Jacqui Murray - teach kids to use the keyboard

  • thumbing on the keyboard–Because kids use iPads and smartphones often prior to kindergarten, they end up thinking keyboards are operated with thumbs. I have to break the news to them that isn’t true. The longer I have to wait before telling them, the harder it is to convince them to use all fingers. Kindergarten is the perfect time to start (for the reasons listed below–they love it and learn fast). I can even show them how to break the virtual keyboard on their favorite mobile device into two, making it perfect for thumbing, and then remind them that’s an alternative, not the only way.

Jacqui Murray - don't mix food with computers

  • eating around devices–This is a horrible habit. Don’t let kids eat around any school equipment with a keyboard and explain why. Not only is it destructive to the equipment, it’s bad manners. If they eat a cookie over a friend’s keyboard and dribble crumbs into the spacebar and Deletekey, they’re not going to be welcome in the future when those keys–and more–stop working. I teach them early and their parents thank me for it.
  • hunt-and-peck–I start kids keyboarding in kindergarten with hands on the keyboard. I don’t care if they use one finger or four but I do let them know, “In a few years, you’ll use all of your fingers.”That’s all I say. Then they can look forward to doing what the Big Kids do.

Kindergartners love technology

Jacqui Murray - enrich curriculum with technology

Because many pre-kindergarten kids play with digital devices at home, they think these devices are fun, which means what they learn with them is fun. So why not teach them where they’d like to learn–on these exquisite digital devices?  Almost every kindergarten curriculum can be augmented, enriched, and energized with technology programs, apps, software, and more. If kids get to use devices they love, they’ll try harder to use them the right way, follow rules, and, well, learn.

Kindergartners learn technology fast

Truth is, kids learn whatever interests them quickly. You’ve seen it yourself when your own kids want to play a digital game, an app on a smartphone, or Xbox. In the case of school-based digital devices, they’ll want to use the available games, videos, music, apps, and more that support classroom inquiry because they associate them with good times. They’ll eagerly figure out how to push the video buttons, use YouTube in an age-appropriate manner, drag-and-drop with the mouse, type their name into posters about the rain forest, read digital books and stories, take a virtual field trip to the zoo, and more. This isn’t work to them. It’s fun and why they love school.

By third grade, they’re taking online tests.

Many schools have found that their third graders don’t know the basics required to take online tests. Here’s a list of missing tech skills that I got from teachers in my PLN (Personal Learning Network) as they struggled to make online tests about the subject matter, not tech skills:

  • Drag-drop
  • Drop-down menus
  • Fill in boxes on a table
  • Highlighting
  • Keyboarding
  • Mouse manipulation
  • Read and comprehend online
  • Saving
  • Scrolling
  • Unselecting
  • Use calculator
  • Use video player
  • Use multiple windows
  • Use online dictionaries, thesauruses
  • Watch a video

Start in kindergarten with the organic use of mouse skills, scroll, watch a video, and more. Build on these every year. By third grade, this knowledge is second nature. With a little focus on a basic technology curriculum, kindergartners will learn the basics, have fun, and not suffer the stress that comes with knowing the test material but being unable to communicate it.

Jacqui Murray - thereasons for using technology in kindergarten

The biggest reason why technology should be incorporated into kindergarten is that it is how kids live. We can’t put that toothpaste back in the tube so embrace it. You will be amazed at how fast, how eagerly kids learn when we meet them in their world, teaching in the ways that make sense to them.

Jacqui

 

Thank you guest author

Thank you, Jacqui, for sharing with us your wisdom about teaching technology to children in kindergarten. Your reasons are compelling and without fault. I’m certain that if anyone was previously uncertain about the place of technology in the early years’ classroom, they no longer are. I very much appreciate your willingness to share your message with us today.

About Jacqui

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today and TeachHUB, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning And read her online resume at Jacqui Murray.net.

You can contact Jacqui

on her blog:  Ask a Tech Teacher

through her publisher: Structured Learning

or on her TpT Store: Ask a Tech Teacher

Connect with Jacqui on Twitter @askatechteacher

If you have any questions or comments for Jacqui about the content of this post, please post them in the comment box below.

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Comments

    Thank you, Charli. I enjoyed having Jacqui over. She has some great advice for teachers and parents.

    Wow, at first I was like kindergartners and tech, isn’t that a bit young? Then I thought about all the kids I see with their parents’ phones. Yup, it’s a necessary part of kinder-learning 🙂 Thanks Jacqui for offering ways for parents and teachers to help kids learn the basics and try to prevent bad habits early on. Excellent post!

    Thanks for adding your thoughts, Christy. What Jacqui says makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? I think many parents and teachers will find her article very useful.

    This was fascinating, and important. As a preschool teacher, I am a bit reluctant when it comes to using technology in the classroom- specifically handing over the iPad to a child. Yet, as you say they are already tech savvy. So, if we teachers can incorporate all those good habits into their usage, it is a win. Thank you Norah and Jacqui!

    Thank you, Jennie. I think we have to accept that learning to use technology effectively is important for young children. I loved teaching my children to use technology. We learned a lot together. Sometimes the children came from home knowing more than I did. 🙂 I was always disappointed that we didn’t have greater access in the classroom. We had only two to three computers and an interactive whiteboard in my last few years of teaching. I made a lot of use of these. We went to the computer lab, where everyone had a computer to use, for a one-hour lesson once a week (or fortnight – I can’t remember). We all would have liked more. Of course, my children were a bit older than yours. They were mainly 6 but turning 7 during the year. I am delighted with Jacqui’s advice and so pleased to be able to share it here. Pleased you appreciate it too. 🙂

    Thanks so much, Robbie. Jacqui’s advice makes a lot of sense. It’s great for parents and teachers to hear it.

    Thanks, Deb! I didn’t expect to see you here. Tech in education is near and dear to me. I think as soon as kids hold a digital device, it’s time to teach them how to do it right!

    Debby is a wonderful support to me, Jacqui. I appreciate that she always reads and comments, even when the topic strays from her main interests. Your advice is good and I think Debby could see and appreciate that too. As with many ‘new’ things, ‘we’ (and I’m not saying this to you, Deb) often have initial anxieties until it becomes commonplace and settles into the norm. When I was a child, we were threatened with square eyes if we sat too close or watched too much television. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen anyone with square eyes. 🙂

    This was a fantastic little instructional and as much as It bothers me that little ones start the digital life way too early, it makes a lot of sense. 😉

    “They” used to worry about us and television too, Debby, but I think technology is here to stay and it is important for the young ones to learn to be masters of it rather than slaves to it. Jacqui’s advice is excellent for both teachers and parents. It’s generous of her to share her knowledge so freely with us. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    EXCELLENT article, Jacqui, I just passed this on, on Twitter and to the many parents of young children I know. We can’t fight technology for the young – it’s already a “language” they know, sometimes better than we do. So teach them the right ways to use it. Norah, how brilliant of you to invite Jacqui here.

    I am so pleased you enjoyed the post, Pam, and thank you for sharing it too. What Jacqui says makes a lot of sense and I think many parents and teachers can benefit from her advice.

    What a great idea, Susan. I just know I would learn so much from classes with Jacqui. I already do! 🙂

    It’s my pleasure to host you here and provide you with an opportunity of sharing your ideas with my readers, Jacqui. Technology is commonplace now in the lives of our young children and it is best they learn how to use it effectively. It arrived when I was well into my adult years and most of what I know is self-taught. I often wonder how much I am missing out on. I know there is much more to learn. Good thing I intend to never stop learning. 🙂

Please share your thoughts. I love it when you do.

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