March 19, 2020

For nearly 40 years, EDC’s Center for Children and Technology has been investigating the roles that technology can play in teaching and learning. I’ve been a part of the organization for half that time and never before have I seen the radical shift in home use of digital tools as we’re seeing now due to COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Many parents, me included, are scrambling to find meaningful ways to engage our children while also attending to work and family commitments. All the while, we’re struggling to keep up with the evolving flow of coronavirus-related information. Very often, the decisions we are making are in response to immediate needs: “What do I do with my 5-year-old right now?” “How do I attend a virtual Zoom meeting with co-workers and also have my kiddo stream LUNCH DOODLES with Mo Willems?” Navigating these moment-to-moment dilemmas may be all we can handle right now, especially as we await guidance from school districts making remote learning plans.

For parents looking for a general set of guidelines to help make sense of where technology fits with young children’s development, my colleagues and I pulled together a new resource: Using Technology to Support Learning at Home: Simple Tips for Parents of Young Children. It’s not a list of educational websites and worthwhile apps as those are cropping up in Facebook feeds, in newspapers, and elsewhere. Instead, it’s an easy-to-follow framework meant to help parents get a solid foothold.

The resource, available in English and Spanish, includes three sections:

  • Getting Started
  • Building Positive Tech Habits
  • What to Look for When Selecting an App

Parents having to create tech-enabled home learning experiences is by no means the only change the pandemic has forced upon us, but it is an important one as schools, libraries, and afterschool programs are closed—or soon will be closing—to millions of children. Meeting the educational needs of young children is challenging work, as Shonda Rimes confirms in her March 16 tweet: “Been homeschooling a 6-year old and 8-year old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year. Or a week.”

May this resource offer some support.

Related links for educators: Supporting Emergent Bilingual Children in Early Learning and Integrating Technology into Early Learning.

Shelley Pasnik, EDC vice president and spokesperson for equitable futures for all families, oversees EDC’s global early childhood initiatives. A nationally recognized expert in the thoughtful integration of digital media, she leads the Center for Children & Technology at EDC.
COVID-19
Early Childhood Development and Learning
STEM

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