Technology and Literacy in the Early Childhood Classroom


Remember the old Jetson cartoons where George would call home and his image would appear on the “telephone” screen? And Elroy had a computerized homework helper? We may not be living in apartments in outer space and we certainly aren’t flying around in space cars (yet), but some of that Jetson technology has become closer to realty than science fiction. These days most people and many businesses are Skyping, Tweeting, Blogging, Instant Messaging, and connecting through Facebook; these words didn’t even exist a few short years ago!

For a variety of reasons, the early childhood community has been slower to catch when it comes to technology. A recent survey of early childhood professionals by Child Care Information Exchange revealed that among child care centers, most that use technology only do so for administrative purposes such as accounting or record-keeping; and classroom use is often limited to educational software.

Technology can positively impact classroom practices.

Not only can teachers use the web to find endless lesson plan ideas, recipes, and classroom themes, but technology can also be used in the classroom even by preschool students! But first we must first get away from the concept that “educational software” is the only way to use technology with young students.

Children can use photographs that they (or a teacher) have taken and create slideshows or stories. Websites such as Slideshare and Voicethread can be used to enhance literacy in the early childhood classroom. There are e-pal sites where classrooms can communicate with other classrooms across the state, across the country, or even across the world! Teachers can also scan student artwork or work samples and create electronic portfolios.

Word-processing and desktop publishing software can be used with students to creates student books, classroom labels, signs, and much more! My kindergartners were able to type “Do not touch” signs, print them out, and label their block creations. They could also type and print “Wet paint” signs to put near their art projects. While traditional methods should not be abandoned, technology can be used to enhance literacy-teaching strategies that we already know are effective.

Chances are, if you are reading this blog, you have a certain degree of technology know-how. I hope that you take what you know about technology and share it with an early childhood professional that may be able to learn from you. Knowledge is power and we have to spread the word about technological literacy!

Written by Tonya Wright