Education

Kid-friendly computers helping preschoolers develop

Posted February 13, 2012

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— Computers and tablets have become standard in many elementary, middle and high school classrooms in recent years, but now they're even being used in preschool classrooms. 

Thanks to a an educational grant from IBM, up to 200 children in 10 Wake County schools have been able to use IBM KidSmart computers this school year to work on skills like color recognition, counting, sorting, eye-hand coordination and other fine motor skills. 

The computers are also loaded with educational games to reinforce concepts teachers work on every day. So far, the reception has been phenomenal. 

"It's definitely stimulating for a lot of kids," Vicki Harvey, a teacher at Briarcliff Elementary said. "It's something they gravitate to. They want to do that. It's almost too much because they just want to focus on the computer."

In Harvey's class, two students at a time sit on a bench to use the computer. It helps promote sharing and makes the kids more social while their using the kid-friendly technology. IBM KidSmart Computers IBM grant allows preschoolers access to computers

"They're sitting side by side and they're talking to each and other and pointing to what's going on their screens," Harvey said. 

Other teachers have used the computers to help promote organization and planning skills.

Each KidSmart computer has a big, wide screen and no sharp edges. It also has a tiny mouse that's easier for small children to use. The computers also have plenty of color, both on the outside and in the color coded keyboard. 

Right now, students in Harvey's class spend about 15 minutes a day on the computer. 

Thanks to the IBM grant, the KidSmart computers have made their way into classrooms at Pleasant Union, Wakefield, Zebulon, Ballentine, River Bend, Briarcliff, Heritage, West Lake, Jeffreys Grove and Lockhart elementary schools.

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  • storchheim Feb 13, 2012

    And when the IBM grant is spent, the teachers will scream that they NEED computers for OUR CHILDREN. Then IBM smiles and rakes it in.

  • Nancy Feb 13, 2012

    My son was on a computer when he was 3 yrs old, he's 26 now - he learned letters, numbers etc in one weekend with Reader Rabbit and math software geared for children his age. It was amazing to watch how quickly he absorbed those skills as a result of the computer and it wasn't a KidSmart, it was our regular computer in the house.

    As others have stated, technology has been around a long time and won't be leaving us, only changing, and it doesn't hurt normal learning at all.

  • Pseudonym Feb 13, 2012

    I remember those kiosks from when my kid had a stay in Duke Hospital. They never worked. IBM would be better off donating old computers to the kids for them to take apart and look at the different pieces, plus some books on how computers work.

    But, that doesn't make good PR. And IBM needs good PR with all the RA's that have been happening lately.

  • gopack07 Feb 13, 2012

    storchheim, let's say you go up to a preschooler and say one of these two things...either "hey, do you want to learn?" or "hey, do you want to play a game?" Guess which one would probably get a more positive reaction? I never said there was anything wrong with a child knowing he's learning. They're just more likely to ENJOY it if they believe it's a game. Like others have said, this is a small piece of the various activities they do in preschool. It's not like the computer is taking the role of the teacher.

    "BTW, who's paying for the computers?"
    An educational grant from IBM. It's in the article if you read it.

  • Shamrock Feb 13, 2012

    My kids were on the computer before they were three and now they are much faster and quicker than I am. Computers are here to stay for the long term so I say the faster the kids are learning about life, the better. However, I do regulate the amount of elctronic time per day per child based on ages. Computer time for pre-schoolers is limited and just an additional learning center during each day.

  • storchheim Feb 13, 2012

    This is abysmal. gopack07, what's wrong with a child knowing he's learning? Is he going to throw a tantrum? If so, great learning moment for the teacher to step up and take control.

    No, I don't want our kids keeping up with technology until they can do it manually. I couldn't tell you the last time a cashier was able to count back my change to me instead of handing it to me (on top of the slippery receipt but that's another rant) saying, "Your change is 37 cents," just like the computer told her to.

    In preschool they should be learning about the world and realizing they're not the only entity inhabiting it. One person in the article even says, "It's almost too much." And it's affecting their brains and ability to concentrate.

    This is not only unnecessary, it's detrimental. Except for the teachers and the computer industry. Oh, and the medical industry who can diagnose ADHD in a few months and prescribe drugs for the kids.

    BTW, who's paying for the computers?

  • RunningBlue Feb 13, 2012

    I agree with kanajacobs

    My 4 y.o. is currently in daycare & the computer has aided in his learning - not REPLACED his learning "the old fashioned way". He has computer time at school, but he also has time for arts, language (3 of them), music, play as well as learning to read, write and math skills AWAY from the computer. Computers aren't going away, so why wouldn't we teach our children how to use them to their advantage?

  • Mom2two Feb 13, 2012

    NO! NO! NO! That is NOT what kids need! Kids that age need to be able to manipulate objects, run, learn how to cut with REAL scissors. Have the opportunity to see what paste tastes like. We are NOT doing our kids any favors by "plugging them in" to electronic devices at this age.

  • kanajacobs Feb 13, 2012

    Guys give it a rest... If you've been in a classroom setting in the past you know they have center time. This appears to be just that... A Center. Which means there is a rotation in which each child will move through various learning environments and this is just one of them. Why not encourage them to learn on a PC since the world is basically run that way. Chill out...

  • thewayitis Feb 13, 2012

    I don't think such use of computers is healthy for the development of young kids. More and more info is coming out about how such intensive technology use is damaging to the brain development of young children. Why not teach them colors the traditional way? Do we really want our kids to rely on computers for their education, and not teachers or parents? I have nothing against older kids using computers to augment their learning, but the use of computers for pre-schoolers and elementary students is questionable, in my opinion.

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