George Lucas Educational Foundation

21st Century Early Child Computing Education

21st Century Early Child Computing Education

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The Digital Age 

Gadgets like iPads, iPhones, tablets, digicams, notebooks, programming codes and scripts kept children busy these days. Children as early as 2 years old have been exposed to these gadgets as a form to entertain and as an educational aid. Ever since the discovery of computing and the internet in the 60s. Proliferation of these net dependent interactive gadgets and tools unceasingly affected people’s everyday lives and ways especially children from their early stage in life.

The Right Time to Learn Computing

Although many medical practitioners are against the ideas since a child’s mind and motor skills development were highly active from birth to 3 years old. Actual interaction between the young child and the parent must be established at this stage and not through a digital and virtual image they see on the screens and monitors of these gadgets.  But due to the introduction of these multimedia gadgets, some experts have noted that they made a significant impact and altered the traditional growth pattern of a child.  Experts believed that the child’s age from 0 to 3 should focus mainly on the development of the child’s motor functions and cognitive skills from the people directly and biologically related to the child. The child must learn how to crawl, walk and talk with the parents, guardians and people closest to the child and continue the ideal bond with the family which the child have experience ever since the child was on the womb. Experts believe that these experiences cannot be possible or was not ideally an option for early child care when the child will be exposed to media devices at an early age since these tools were inanimate and does not really have that direct connection to the biological aspect of the child.

The M2 Generation

The fact that school-aged children spend an average of 7 ½ hours a day in front of a digital device was proof enough that today’s children at their earliest age were more and more becoming technologically aware and attached to media devices than school children of the same age level five years ago through a study conducted and news released by the Kaiser Family Foundation last January 2010.  The change was so dramatic that today’s generation M2 or the so called Multimedia generation could soon advance surprisingly into the next level.

Coping with the Changing Times

But in today’s modern environment, these computing gadgets and tools are becoming more and more the means to help develop the child’s awareness in today’s era of advanced technology learning and discovery. Many countries with advanced technologies are integrating computing skills to students into the school curriculum for children as early as preschool and early education level. Learning a third language other than their mother tongue and English was an open option. And the third language might not necessarily be in the lingual term but in the more advanced lingo of the computers – program codes. Yes, you’ve read it right! Kids as early as in their primary or even preschool school might be able to learn programming in their school lessons.  Math will no longer just be numerics involving 1+1 or 5x7 or the root of 42563. Modern computing will now also include AND, OR, NOT, IF and THEN operators.

In The US, institutions like were actively encouraging every school in the US to include program coding as part of the educational curriculum in the child’s early age as much as possible.  The government has been very keen on upgrading the educational system that projects like the bill on the Every Student Succeeds Act was signed and prioritized by Pres. Obama.

In Hongkong, advocates and institutions like the ‘We can Code,’ Code Club HK and First Code Academy headed by Ray Cheung Chak-chun, David Greenwood  and Michelle Sun are teaching after class workshops on computer program coding to grade school pupils.  Children as young as six years old, also children from age 9 to 11 as well as those in their secondary levels are being taught to code and create mobile apps by these private institutions. One of the software app used in their coding lessons were modelled to go like that of a puzzle-like drag and drop game thus children were enticed and come to enjoy coding for one and a half hour each session just like how they play with their puzzles on their tablets and phones.

In UK, the government vouch that their schools would introduce the direction of inserting computer programming and coding in their primary schools curriculum.

Are Computer Devices Good for Children?

The long arguments and debates on whether computer gadgets are advisable and beneficial to children still remain on different grounds and points. But due to the advancement of technology computing devices and multimedia tools are becoming more and more attached not only to the grownups but to the children as well. The fact cannot be refuted that these devices were a vital source of knowledge, information and communication that can enrich everyone’s lives including our children’s education and hunger for knowledge. Their exploring minds have driven them to a different exploration to quench their thirst for knowledge.

Continue the Learning Process through the Changes

In the earlier days, parents have made their children learn playing the piano or any musical instrument to help them focus, learn new things, keep them active and hone their talents. One need not be a virtuoso to learn playing the piano. Likewise, in this era of modern technology, given the proper attention and guidance, a child can learn how to code and create simple apps to communicate or be creative using their multimedia devices. The role of parents, guardians and educators were to provide them these options and let the children engage in the current age of digitally grown society and be competitive enough to cope up with the changing times.

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