The present text explores the concept of what early literacy is and its importance during a child’s most impressionable years. It analyzes findings from a study where they focus on the specific impacts or effects from the skills develop at an early age in a child’s higher education. The paper also looks into the current world where technology is present in everyday life and how important it is to be incorporated for early education, more specifically in early literacy. This paper reviews the guidelines or principles that the U.S Government instills in the classroom in regard to these skills and the merging of technology that comes with it. With these guidelines in mind, it goes more in depth why the government believes that technology is a tool for learning. There is mention on how today’s educator are using technology and general examples of the programs that they use. Following this, it talks about the features that make these tools useful and what future programs and applications should keep in mind when it comes to creating them.
Technology is a resource that can be used to encourage successful learning and development when one uses it in appropriate early literacy activities. Young children are increasingly using touch screens or computers at home and in early childhood environments. The features that modern technology have can support the educational development of young children, especially early literacy. However, the use of technology for early literacy relies on both the parents and the teacher, as well as the availability of these appliances in an educational setting. Parents must realize how important it is for young children to learn these essential skills, which can provide them with the cornerstones required to perform later academic skills. It is the role of the parent or guardian to foster behavior that will help the child develop their mind during their most impressionable years.
To understand how technology has become a tool for setting up young children early literacy skills, it is important to understand what these skills are. Educators can define early literacy in diverse ways, and some may even refer to them by different names, such as precursor or predictive literacy. All will agree that these skills begin to develop in a child’s preschool years, more specifically from birth to age five. These skills include but aren’t limited to alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness, letter writing, print knowledge, oral language and many more (Goodson, Layzer, Simon and Dwyer, 2009). It estimated that more than a third of all fourth graders in the United States, with an even higher percentage of at-risk students, read so poorly that they are unable to complete their schoolwork successfully (Goodson, Layzer, Simon and Dwyer, 2009). Knowing this issue stresses the idea of just how fundamental it is for a child to develop their skills in their preschool years so that they can be on the path to later achievement.
There is far more evidence of the impact on how obtaining these skills and implementing in school but also the household has an effect in predicting a child’s performance in their upcoming years. There has been lots of research done on this topic where different researchers reveal their findings such as how a child’s reading performance in their preschool and kindergarten years predicts their reading in higher grade levels. But what four researchers by the names of Suggate, Schaughency, McAnally, & Reese, wanted to do was expand on these findings. They did this by conducting a study that lasted 15 years and focused on 58 children from when they were 19 months up to the age of 16. They administered different measures total of 8 times during the 15 years, some of the many things they calculated during this time was a child’s oral storytelling ability before and after they had entered school. The researchers made sure to keep each child’s maternal or home language as a control variable.
This study’s findings uncovered how much a child grasps at their early age, while it’s not something new, the researchers found out that the parents who exposed their kids to high-quality language influenced their reading comprehension years later. They came to this conclusion through data that the researchers took from each child when they were about 3 years old and then at 16 years old. The claim that home language also has an impact for a child’s reading comprehension was also reaffirmed through this research. These findings are important because they went more in depth of what earlier researchers had discovered and it was all due to their extensive and long-lasting evaluation. Most of all, this research highlights the correlation between reading and language during childhood, from infancy through to adolescence.
Over the past decade, significant changes have taken place in the world of technology, followed by discussions about the role of emerging technologies in the early education environment. Burnett (2010) pointed out in her article that some early childhood educators lack confidence and expertise in these new technologies. Although she wrote this article ten years ago, it could likely it remains this way, with technology evolving so rapidly. Over the last few years, those participating in education policy and practice have a greater understanding of the possibilities of incorporating emerging technology into the development of early literacy and have gained insightful insights into the experience and reaction of children to these opportunities (Burnett, 2010, p. 248.) One of the things policymakers have implemented are four principles for early learners and their use of technology. The first two principles are that when technology is used properly, it can become a learning tool and is more effective for learning when adults or peers interact with young children. The last two principles are that technology should be used to improve children’s access to learning opportunities and may strengthen the relationship between parents, early educators, and kids (U.S Department of Education, 2016)
In connection to principle one, there are many ways educators are using technology as a tool. Electronic storybooks, computer-based phonics, and vocabulary training programs, as well as software applications that allow children to read and write, are available (Belo, McKenney, Voogt, Bradley, 2016). Four authors go over the effective features of each of these applications and how they promote the early development of child literacy. In terms of the electronic storybook, the writers agreed that due its features of being able to re-listen to text, explaining difficult or unknown words, and like traditional stories uses multimedia to illustrate the story scene that it encourages interpretation of the story and the development of vocabulary. It is also likely one of the most accessible and user friendly among the three. The program that revolves around phonics and vocabulary training also serves a good purpose because instruction can be aimed at various levels, for each child, such as sound level, sentence level, and word level which allows careful ordering of tasks to form linguistic complexity. Programs like these make it easier for the instructor as well because they can track a child’s progress and model it to a subject that’s relevant to what a child is learning. The latter application is useful because it lets a child’s writing to be saved or be printed, but it is also one that isn’t as beneficial as the other two are. (Belo, McKinney, Voogt, Bradley, 2006.)
While these were only a few of the various sorts of technology-based programs or applications there are other features that both an educator or parent should be looking for to make sure they have the best quality early literacy applications. Applications that will support a child during their developmental years should be relevant to their age and is encouraged for it link it to that child’s early literacy program. It should allow for a child’s creativity, problem solving and critical thinking to be stimulated. Apps that will prove to be beneficial should be interactive for a child’s mind and rather than have them pass or fail use their mistakes to guide them and improve their overall performance. Yet according to Neumann (2014) point out how little few apps containing all, or some of these features currently exist. Some of the barriers that they mentioned are the “lack of feedback or rewards, game objectives were unclear, or contained too many screen distractions” (as cited in Neumann & Neumann, 2014). The few quality applications that do exist were found to have a positive effect on children’s letter sounding, rhyming ,and vocabulary, especially for children at the age of 3 (Neumann & Neumann, 2014). This fact was revealed due to the parents’ conducting their own research and keep track of their child’s performance before they began using an app versus after they used it for a while. This only goes to show the importance for adults in the household to know what features are best in promoting a child’s skills.
As this new generation is surrounded by the ever changing nature that is technology, it is understandable why some parents may want to keep their children away from it until a later age. Many parents wonder how appropriate it is for children to have electronic gadgets be shoved in their faces in terms of developmental growth. One of the ages where parents or caregivers question more about this are those from newborns to two-years old. Those who study children’s developmental stages agree that in order to develop their cognitive, language motor and social-emotional skills require hands-on exploration and social interaction with trusted caregivers (as cited in U.S Department of Education, 2016). For children in these early ages, integrating technology use in these settings is discouraged and if there is use of it, it’s advised for parents to co-view with them. As for when a child is between the ages of one and two, they can learn from videos that they can only watch if parents co-view what they see and use it as a learning aid to improve language abilities. Although research shows that children in this age range can learn from watching videos, they do not retain the knowledge so long as children who learn the same material through books supervised by their parents. (As cited in U.S Department of Education, 2016). While one can’t force a parent or caregiver to follow these guidelines, it is recommended that for parents interested in using technology with their children they should wait until they’re at least 18 months old and for it to be with high-quality content. (U.S Department of Education, 2016).
Technology can be used for a wide range of learning and it was time to see how it can be put to use in early literacy. Many agree that these skills develop at the young age and have an impact when one’s older. It is important that a mind grasps all of these concepts during these impressionable years and technology can be an added boost to this development. Technology is something that surrounds so many in this modern world and is ever evolving and as so many incorporate it into their everyday life, it is important for it a part of teaching and it this case early education. Those born in this generation, or the past decade don’t know the world without technology. As this new generation use touch screens or tablets most frequently at home and in early childhood settings, all concepts shown to affect in a kid’s future achievements should be incorporated into technology. For a concept that holds lots of importance like early literacy has there should be an abundant of quality applications or software that have all the necessary features that’ll boost a kid’s success. Families need to recognize the value of reading to their child and promote an environment that supports learning while forming a strategy for how to do it, whether it is centered around technology or not. During the early and developmental years that a kid has it is good to surround them with things that will expand their mind and leave a mark on their future.
- Belo, N., McKenney, S., Voogt, J., & Bradely, B. (2016). Teacher knowledge for using technology to foster early literacy: A literature review. Computers in Human Behavior, 60, 372-383.
- Burnett, C. (2010). Technology and literacy in early childhood educational settings: A review of research. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 10(3), 247-270.
- Goodson, B., Layzer C., Simon, P., & Dwyer C. (2009). Early Beginnings- Early Literacy Knowledge and Instruction. [Brochure]. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy
- Neumann, M.M., Neumann, D.L. (2014) Touch Screen Tablets and Emergent Literacy. Early Childhood Education, 42, 231–239
- Suggate, S., Schaughency, E., Mcanally, H., & Reese, E. (2018). From infancy to adolescence: The longitudinal links between vocabulary, early literacy skills, oral narrative, and reading comprehension. Cognitive Development, 47, 82-95.
- U.S Department of Education. (2016). Guiding Principles for Use of Technology with Early Learners Retrieved from https://tech.ed.gov/earlylearning/principles/