It is well established that three and four year olds need a strong focus on cognitive development along with attention to their social and emotional development to be ready for kindergarten (1, 2). Technology can play a key role in this preparation. Experts confirm that preschool age children are developmentally ready and able to benefit from instruction with technology. The use of educational technology is now known to have a major, positive impact on the social, emotional, language, and cognitive development of children.
It is recommended that many opportunities be given during the preschool years for exploration using technology tools in a playful, supportive environment. Researchers further agree that a number of technology applications have the potential to support and extend learning in the young child through their unique capability to provide excellent instruction in these important developmental areas that are critical for educational success (3-5).
Specifically, research has found that preschoolers who used computers with developmentally appropriate supporting activities for key learning goals, had more gains than children without these computer experiences. Among others, these included increases in knowledge, long-term memory, verbal skills, problem solving, and manual dexterity (3).
A set of studies with low-income children found those who received a computer curriculum had increases in cognitive, motor, and language scores compared to similar children in a regular curriculum (6,7). Recent research published in the journal Pediatrics found that young children who had access to a computer compared to those who did not performed better on measures of cognitive development and school readiness as measured by the Boehm Test of Basic Concepts and the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scales of Intelligence. The lead author notes that the findings suggest that “computer access before or during the preschool years is associated with the development of preschool concepts and cognition” (8).
The National Association for the Education of Young Children also states that considerable research points to the positive effects of educational technology on children’s learning and development. For these effects to be present, however, educators must monitor that it is appropriate in the areas of age, individual child needs, and culture; and integrate educational technology into the learning environment in ways that support what and how children learn (9).
To read the research studies noted above, here are the references:
References and Sources
1. Eager to Learn: Executive Summary. (2000). (Eds.) B.T. Bowman, S.M. Donovan, & S.M.
Burns. National Research Council. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
2. Landry, S. & James Baker Institute for Public Policy. (2004). Effective Early Childhood
Programs: Turning Knowledge Into Action. Houston, TX: Rice University.
3. Haugland, S.W. (2000). What role should technology play in young children’s learning? Part 2. Early childhood classrooms in the twenty-first century: Using computers to maximize
learning. Young Children, 55, 12–18.
4. Murphy, K., DePasquale, R., & McNamara, E. (2003). Meaningful connections: Using
technology in primary classrooms. Beyond the Journal: Young Children on the Web.
5. Clements, D.H. 1994. The Uniqueness of the Computer as a Learning Tool: Insights from
Research and Practice. (Eds.) J.L. Wright & D.D. Shade. Young children: Active learners
in a technological age, pp. 31-50. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education
of Young Children.
6. Ainsa, T. (1989). Effects of computers and training in Head Start curriculum. Journal of
Instructional Psychology, 16, 72–78.
7. Ainsa T. (1987). Effects of computers and training in Head Start curriculum. Journal of
Educational Computing Research, 3, 249 –260.
8. Li, X., & Atkins, M.S. (2004). Early childhood computer experience and cognitive and motor development. Pediatrics, 113, 1715-1722.
9. National Association for the Education of Young Children