ICT has been defined by scholars as anything that allows one to get information, communicate that information with each other. It also means to have an effect on the environment by use of digital equipment. In early childhood, ICT includes hardware and software, digital and video cameras, the internet, telecommunication devices and automatic toys.
IT is vital in early childhood because of three reasons namely, people who influence children’s learning already understand ICT and it has had effects on them. Besides, IT technologies do strengthen child learning in many aspects that affect skills development. Lastly, there is a paradigm shift all over the world to integrate IT in the education sector, policy, curriculum and practice for skills development. In contemporary schooling for the early learners, literacy and numeracy skills can now be acquired through a digital camera, video cameras, closed-circuit–television, video-conferencing, automatic toys, robotics and electronic musical instruments. Policy guidelines in the education sector now focus on teachers using ICT with early learners, ICT is also an instrument used by teachers for scaffolding children’s early education skills acquirement, ICT can also be used to strengthen relationships between educators, practitioners and family members.
ICT enriches school environment settings and impacts in a significant way on early learning and development. This includes acquirement of cognition skills in language, mathematics thinking and information literacy. ICT learning has clear goals and principles set out such as children well-being, sense of belonging, expressing their ideas, views, feelings, thinking about the environment in the natural, social, physical and materials forms. ICT offers many opportunities to early learners such as abilities to foster and promote children’s learning and play experiences. Many children have been supported to communicate clearly and relate to friends or relatives. Besides, since at school and at home family members and teachers understand IT childhood education setting is richer than before. It should be noted that as early learners progress, educators should not detach themselves from children as they would need more attachment to mothers, teachers and friends to attain the required skills. Overreliance on ICT might also depersonalize the early learners too early before they fully gain optimal skills development (O'Hara, 2004; O'Rourke & Harrison, 2004).
There have been concerns over utilization of ICT for early learners for cognitive, physical, social and emotional skills development. There lies the danger of depersonalizing early learners from the social world. Health implications for ICT use should be taken into consideration as children’s physical and ergonomic safety may be compromised. There also lies the danger of exposure to inappropriate content including violent literature, gender and cultural stereotypes and labelling and bombardment by the online environment that is not censored. Educators will need to be clear about learning objectives and contexts necessary for early childhood learning. They need to adopt appropriate pedagogical strategies that do not compromise UN convention standards.
Embracing I.T in schools has a myriad of challenges, equipment functioning, availability of hardware, technical support and lack of internet access pose potential threats to the adoption of ICT in schools. Low or poor internet connectivity affected learning at kindergartens and early learning centers. ICT cannot be adopted 100% to allow teachers to depersonalize their attachments with early preschoolers.
For early learners in 7-12 grades, social constructivist view that early learners are socially competent and embraces the voice of the child aims at engaging students or pupils with skills via collaborative pedagogies. Educators need to encourage participation and involvement as a teaching method so that early learners develop team work and familial relationships. Since they are believed to be capable and competent they are allowed to share opinions, criticize ideas, change insights and comment or reflect on each other’s plans and aspirations. A class setting should have camera phones, internet webcams and virtual space that allow learners to interact and upload reports onto portals for teacher and peer evaluation (Davidson & Golberg, 2009).
Social constructivist theory encourages teachers and parents or caregivers to use positive behavior support (PBS) by engaging them in interventions that are practical. The classical puritanical approach was more disciplinarian and in itself inhibited children from discovering themselves. Social constructivist model allows for more responsive, respectful, individually centered, preventive and supportive of child’s socio-emotional development and long term changes in behavior. It is highly transformational and can make a child or pupil acquire new skills for improvement (Woodhead, 2006). When planning classroom interventions early learners probably grade 7-12 have attained basic skills and need support towards wider reasoning and independence. Learners are expected to be more innovative, more personal and participatory.
(Leadbeater, 2008). A teacher’s pedagogical approach should be designed to provide real-world contexts to learners, the learners should be in control of their projects from beginning to the end and solve problems as they emerge themselves. To achieve this; an educator requires working relationships with the students, teachers, community and colleagues (Bolstad, 2011). ICT is one such discipline where innovation, independence and collaboration are expected among learners. Learners need to believe in their own abilities and self-confidence.
Early learning in the ECD schools has transformed the indoor/outdoor classroom setting in the digital era. Young children’s learning and development in an ICT class environment require an overhaul of pedagogical methods and their educators, caregivers, family members and parents. ICT and early learner’s objectives and experiences should inter-connect with their experiences. ICT, pedagogy and cultural diversities require transformation of children’s play materials – more likely materials include video-cameras, robots, video games among others. Pedagogy overhaul means that storytelling and drawing of pictures are done digitally. Voice-recorders of video recorders can store child stories; artwork can now be drawn by hand and scanned digitally for storage. Teachers now can observe through CCTV their early learners playing in their natural setting thereby depicting their natural impulses without educator hindrance. ICT can also be used to attract online children interest on a topic discussed earlier. Besides, teachers and parents can access child performance digitally such as play while at school via video, online communication and reports. Peer reviews can now be accessed across the globe (Africa, America, Europe, and Asia) on best practices on child pedagogy.
Every child’s cultural symbols take frames of their community, family and parental imprints that occur at home in their early years of infancy. When at school young learners look around for home-like similarities in form of artefacts and materials. This means that school resources should be designed such that they cover all cultural settings for every child. School environment for young ones is reflected in furniture, toys, artwork, drawings, child games, songs` and other styles that educators attempt to imitate home. Early childhood centers should be devoid of all forms of discrimination whether committed inadvertently or on purpose. ICT systems in an ECD should reflect all cultural settings of present learners. The romantic theory postulates that children are innocent and need protection. UN General Assembly conventions focus on child protection. In 1989, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by UN General Assembly and ratified by various countries across the world.
In order to nurture a holistic and successful preschooler, early communal contexts should be able to support the development of an individual in a way that stresses on happiness and goal attainment of self and social skills. The Bowlbian discourse advocates for children staying at home with the mother in order to complete all the attachment stages. Parents stay with their children until they acquire optimal skills. In most home settings children interact with those people they trust most. They ask weird questions, become inquisitive and in return, they receive comprehensive answers from those they are attached to. School attachment agents with home-like features are teachers and educators who young learners trust and attach to. School and home environment promote endurance skills that foster social relationships for blossoming (Shonkoff and Garner, 2012). ICT integration process should, therefore, combine socio-cultural, pedagogical and physical settings in ways that reflect infant-friendliness.
Various approaches come into play when adapting to cultural aspects of children located in a diverse community. Protecting rights of children guided by UN convention standards aims to point to the fact that children are vulnerable and should be protected. Conversely, the Bowlbian approach maintains that children need maternal attachment so that they can progress and attain their skills. Cultural aspects are necessary because they point to how children will successfully gain cultural skills that enable them to overcome risks in future. Community cultural beliefs, values and norms enable the child to reach puritan levels of values and behavior. Culture also forms social constructions that shape individual behavior manifested by members of the community.
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