Technology is not necessarily reserved for the fully literate -- little kids can benefit from it too! Young students are enjoying activities that their teachers have gathered from online resources. And more and more sites with a munchkin flair are popping up each day. From Barney to Big Bird -- your young students will find their heroes on the Net, and you will find a few heroic helpers! Included: Sites for early childhood educators and for kids.
As a former classroom teacher with years of experience in the field of early childhood education, Beth Conant possesses a unique perspective on what the Web offers early childhood teachers and students. She combines her interest in "best practice," writing, and technology in her Web site called the Early Childhood Educators' and Family Web Corner.
"As a new Internet user, I was thrilled with all the information I had found on the Internet but was frustrated by the amount of time it had taken me to find it all," Conant told Education World. "I am the type of person who is always looking for a new challenge, so when I got bored with surfing, I decided that the next best challenge for me was to open my own site."
Conant wanted to save "newbies" the time and aggravation of having to search for everything from scratch, as she had to. She also had been editing a state newsletter that had been discontinued. The Web Corner provided an opportunity for her to continue writing and publishing for the benefit of early childhood educators everywhere!
A visit to this corner is a pleasant experience for teachers and parents alike! Conant's Early Childhood Educators' and Family Web Corner is billed as "an index to all things early childhood," and it lives up to its name. Teachers will find articles about hot topics in early childhood education and links to tons of great resources. Parents will discover links that focus on the family, addressing such topics as parenting techniques and safety.
Several great sites come to mind when Conant is asked to recommend other excellent online resources for early childhood teachers. According to her, the NAEYC site is at the top of the list. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is the premiere organization for and about the field of early childhood, and the NAEYC site is where teachers can learn about upcoming conferences and read articles about early childhood education.
The Perpetual Preschool is another of Conant's picks. This site has exceptional ideas and opportunities for teachers to share. As a practical resource, it can't be beat! Activities in areas from math to art and all things in between have been collected and posted on this site with the help of its many visitors. Borrow an idea from the collection, and contribute one of your own!
Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators also gets a nod from Conant not only for its fabulous collection of useful links but for its invaluable tutorials for the Web novice. Schrock points you in the direction of online resources in every subject. Don't miss her Internet Curriculum, a set of lesson plans to introduce students to the Internet.
Visit these additional Web sites that offer online information for the early childhood educator!
If links and activities are what you seek, KidBibs is the site for you! Here, you will find great classroom ideas, and the site will soon be adding awards that you may personalize and print. There are also lists of recommended books for all age levels, from infants to 12-year-olds. The site features a few links each month that are exceptional resources for young children and their teachers. Consider signing up for the free e-mail newsletter for ideas delivered to your inbox.
Another site with activities to share is the Preschool Education Program, an organization that serves preschoolers with mild to severe disabilities in Montgomery County, Maryland.
From the volumes of ERIC comes the ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education, one of the best resources for current information in early childhood education. Read online articles from ERIC newsletters, and learn about hot topics, such as the Reggio Emilia approach or Project Approach to educating young children.
Find a great art activity to share with your class or read an interesting article to bring you up to speed on the latest educational trends at Earlychildhood.com. The abundant resources on this site come from early childhood experts who have written articles that address issues that affect you. Visit monthly to see a new craft project that is tailor-made for little hands!
Conant believes there is a place for technology in the education of early learners. "Teachers do wonderful things on the Internet with and for young children," she stated. "Since so much of the Web is text-based, it is limiting for the very young, but teachers are doing wonderful projects to encourage literacy behaviors in young children. E-Pal programs place kids in touch with other children all over the world. Very young children post their artwork online and submit their stories. They interact with authors of children's literature. Field trips take children to places that they might never see otherwise."
Safety is a key issue when introducing youngsters to the Web, but there are ways of handling it. "There is filtering software that teachers can use to filter out objectionable and inappropriate Web material, but these are not foolproof and sometimes filter out valuable information as well," Conant offered. "A better solution is to use the 'work off-line' function of a Web browser. The teacher goes live onto the Web; pulls up pages he or she wants children to interact with and then selects the 'work off-line' option. This option pulls Web pages from your computer's cache memory. That way teachers have direct control over what children are accessing."
"I don't think people have even begun to understand the value of the Internet!" said Conant. "I find myself using it increasingly to stay on top of the latest information in the early childhood area. I learn from other teachers and from some of the most respected professionals in our field about a myriad of topics."
"I have heard early childhood teachers say that though they can't afford to go to many conferences, they stay on top of the latest trends and strategies through their interactions and reading on the Web," she explained. "If you need to get college credits, there are courses that can be taken via the Web. It's an ever-changing, growing source of information!"
Article by Cara Bafile
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