“A 15-year-old who broke into over 250 websites.”
“A 14-year-old broke into online servers of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.”
“A 9-year old student outwits Virginia school district’s cyber security measures.”
Last few years have seen a burst on
similar headlines of the newspapers. This clearly indicates the change in thinking patterns of children very early in the childhood. With technology fusing in the lives, change in attitudes of adults towards the education, etc. there is a rapid techy transition going on over the whole environment of education for toddlers or kindergarten classrooms.
So, what do expect the headlines will be 5 years down the lane?
Kindergarten is basically a social experience for children for their transition from home to school. However, different countries have different definitions of Kindergarten, and subsequently different course syllabus.
According to oxford dictionary, (in Britain and Australia) an establishment where children below the age of compulsory education play and learn; a nursery school.(in North America) a class or school that prepares children, usually five- or six-year-olds, for the first year of formal education. In India, it comprises of nursery, LKG (Lower Kindergarten) and UKG (Upper Kindergarten). Thus correspondingly the syllabus and course structure varies for each location.
This leads us to the main question, what does a 21st century kindergarten look like? What are the trends of today’s classrooms?
Before getting to the answer of above, one needs to understand the requirements and the changes of a kindergarten class in this world. The uniqueness of kindergarteners is that they can think somewhat abstractly but still need concrete experiences, they can follow directions but they also need to explore their own ideas. Thus, there has to be a system of balance of guidance and interaction for the children. Now, while the older methods of playing games and doing group activities are important in this, but a technological device like a smartboard, or an iPad can amalgamate the guidance and interaction into one.
With the rapid influx and exposure of technology, today a child sees a machine which can produce various mechanical functions and produce noises from inside it and doesn’t even feel intrigued as compared to a child 10 years back. Children have become much faster at grasping things and especially the mentally-challenged ones.
Changes have also been on the mind-sets of parents/guardians. Every parent wants his/her child to have the best “facilities” in the school. Often with both the adults working in their respective offices, children have almost zero-guidance at home and thus, a facilitated pre-school which can control and engage them for whole day is the most preferred choice.
Due to the unique development of kindergarten-age children, the role of the kindergarten teacher is quite complex. Kindergarten teachers are an intricate fusion of parents, nurses, conflict managers, instructors, supporters, and friends. The kindergarten teacher is the provider of rich academic opportunities and experiences and an emotional and intellectual supporter. This superhuman job gets the greatest relief from technology and today’s changed learning patterns of children.
Learning through Videos is one of such trends, which can be easily seen nowadays. It is very evident that Toddlers like moving images, sweet sound and small creatures and that is the reason why many toys of toddlers remain small with interactive noises. Videos with embedded stories are readily used by schools to share information and keep the children under guidance.
Using games is another way to increase the enthusiasm in kids, for example games like Funbrain .
Mouse Practice (copyright Apple Computer, Inc. 1992). This program teaches the children to click and drag. Thus, feeding them the instructional value.
Broderbund program Kid Pix Studio Deluxe. This is a wonderful program that allows them to use their imaginations which is the zest of a pre-school.
Although the trends of the school have advances, this has led to some bad consequences as well. As, five year olds should not be exposed to the same content as a senior in high school, yet they often use the same computer lab. One has to keep children safe while allowing older students to have the freedom to explore online. Schools should ensure that they have filter capabilities which keep most of the inappropriate content away.