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Program Helps Parents Use "Screen Time" Educationally

Program Helps Parents Use "Screen Time" for Educational Benefit for Young Learners

In Boston’s Haynes Early Education Center, young learners between preschool and first-grade from low-income families are being exposed to digital learning through computer and device use alongside their parents.

According to The Hechinger Report, the "new program at the Haynes and a handful of other centers teaches computer basics to parents and preschoolers together, enabling the parents to explore educational apps and computer-literacy skills alongside their children."

Whereas many early learners might be exposed to technology early, the program is aimed to teach parents how to turn the devices they let their young ones use into educational tools as opposed to just "a pacifier or a babysitter."

Many educators, parents and the like are torn on how they view the appropriateness of "screen time" for early learners. But as the digital age advances, many who were previously opposed to screen time or in favor of limited screen time are changing their tune in liue of the potential educational value for early learners.

Tech Goes Home (TGH), part of the nonprofit Open Air Boston and the organization responsible for the initiative, told The Hechinger Report "after 15 hours of class spread over several weeks, parents get to keep the iPad they’ve used with their children for $50 (paid upfront as a registration fee)."

"The nonprofit also helps parents find low-cost broadband for their homes, via the discounts for lower-income families that most carriers provide," the article said.

But aside from providing key educational apps and providing new value to the devices, the program also describes the importance of connecting parents and young learners and guiding parents to the appropriate ways to fully engage children in learning.

"The role of parents is key, because despite the recent proliferation of computers in preschools, parents can’t yet count on early childhood centers to take the lead with educational technology."

The program is especially useful because it deals with low-income families, "where kids growing up in low-income homes, especially those headed by single parents, receive fewer of these sorts of parental interactions than do their more affluent peers," the article said.

TGH hopes to enroll 100 more families in the early childhood courses for the 2015-2016 school year.

Read the full article here and comment with your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

07/27/2015

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