Laying a strong foundation: Introducing technology in Early Years
Carly Sheen runs an Ofsted registered childminding organisation called Carly’s Angels, where she looks after children from seven months up to seven years. Carly believes that introducing technology into the Early Years environment is essential in helping develop children’s skills and here she tells us about why she decided to invest in the Genee Early Years Tilt and Touch Table…
The intent of childminders is not just to watch over children whilst their parents are working, but to provide a comprehensive play-based curriculum that makes progress towards Early Years goals. Catering to a wide variety of ages and development stages can rarely be accomplished with one game, activity or device, but with technology becoming more of a focus in schools, I knew that introducing digital resources into the childminding environment was important, not only for their technical development, but to also help them build on key skills like sharing, working together and communicating.
The Touch Table
I decided to try out the Genee Early Years Tilt and Touch Table as I tend to find using something smaller like a tablet or an iPad, their fingers get everywhere, and you can’t get anything useful done! The touch table comes with pre-loaded educational software packages including a number of different apps, quizzes and activities that can be used to develop maths, reading or memory skills. The children are able to work together in small groups, pairs or individually with the larger screen. It gives them the platform to take activities as far as they want. It’s quite amazing to see how much they’ve actually picked up by using the screen.
A Normal Day
We use the touch table almost every day, depending on their interest but it’s obviously something they’re very keen on using. The activities also change on a daily basis, rotating between counting or phonics games that help the children to identify letters and learn to count, to simply finger painting on a blank canvas. They also love using Google Earth on the touch table as they can look at different parts of the world, zoom in and explore. It’s great because it gives them an awareness of knowledge and cultures that they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
The good thing about the table is the flexibility it provides; we can use it as a table format by moving it into a horizontal position, so more of the children can work on it together at the same time through its multi-touch capabilities, or we can tilt it through 75 degrees if one of them is playing on their own. There are so many apps and resources on the table, it really does have something for everyone on there. I can even create my own, or tailor programmes to make sure that it’s the right ability for the children which is really useful.
It’s encouraged collaboration, team work, and taking turns as well as improving their reading and writing without them even realising!
There is something available for every aspect of the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework, and I find it only enhances what we could do with traditional tools like books and toys because you’re not restricted by the amount that you have or the information that you can find out. You can literally go on there and find whatever you need or use it as a platform for more independent activity.
For example, there was one day when I was fixing lunch and had set the children up with a programme on the table that reads stories aloud and they can sing along. They were inspired to grab some musical instruments and play and dance along to it as well. They became very independent and built onto what I had already planned for them to do. I think it really helped them to take charge of their own learning.
Ahead of the Curve
In addition to learning to share and having the opportunity to become more familiar with basic concepts, I think it’s important to introduce children to this type of technology before they enter school. It’s what they’re doing at my eldest son’s school; they all have iPads now and they do a lot of work on their iPad rather than with pen and paper, so I think that using the touch tables is a really good way to introduce them to ICT that gets them ready for when they start school.
Expanding Technology in Early Years
The feedback we’ve had from parents has been amazing too, they’ve come and had a little play on it and absolutely love it – almost as much as the kids!
I think more pre-school environments like nurseries and childminders should increase their use of technology. As we get children ready for school, nurseries and preschools need to step up and start introducing it as early as they can as well as teaching children how to stay safe on there too. If they learn that from the second they start using them then they’re set up for when they’re older.