Is technology necessary at daycare?

It is no surprise that technology has changed completely people’s life, specially in the educational aspect. Researching for topics for projects have become much easier for students; some schools allow their students to use Tablets as books (pretty cool). Cell phones are used to investigate; in simpler words, “to google.” Though the use of technology in a school setting, might be more beneficial for school age kids. Why? Simply because they are more mature and old enough to understand the benefits of having technology. However, toddlers and preschoolers certainly do not understand technology nor how to use it.

Let’s face it. If a child can unlock a smartphone, then it does not represent a challenge for him, he does not have to use his frontal core. Therefore, one could easily say that children should NOT USE niños-tecnológicostechnology because it is not helping the child develop any skills. According to the Dr. Bruce Perry, the brain is not specifically designed  for the use of a joystick nor for the “continuous attention to a two-dimensional moving image such as those in the television.” Although, written words, images on television, and videography are ”sensed, processed, stored, and acted on by the human brain”. This is due to the fact that the brain literally changes to respond to these experiences which cause many changes in brain development, brain organization, and brain function. Scientifically speaking, the human brain has a preference for information presented and oriented in a very visual way such as television, movies, videos, apps, etc. Thus, they easily attract and get the attention of children.

A Teaching Strategies’ survey have found that 90 percent of early childhood educators have access to technology in the classroom and use it least once a week. Additionally, many educators stated that they feel confident with the way they use technology. Now, are “these efficient technologies” what our children really need? Dr. Bruce Perry qualifies these technologies as “passive” because they prevent the child from having a learning experience that will enhance all the areas of his development; emotional, cognitive, physical, language and more importantly, social. 

Aristotle said that the human being is a “political animal” which essentially needs culture and society to fully develop happiness and perfection. Socialization is essential for humans. The individual who has not fully experienced socialization, lacks psycho and mental awareness in regard to the other human beings. Thus, he will be unable to act like the other members of society. Children need social experiences in order to fully develop all their necessary skills to be part of society. Many forms of technology can prevent children from receiving authentic and and fundamental social experiences. Certainly, there are many good technologies sources out there that promote the development of curiosity and creativity in young children. Therefore, these technologies should be used to support the early childhood curriculum, not replace it.

Balance is key to success. Children need a mixture of well-planned experiences and activities that will allow them to develop the capacity to cope with society, and social and emotional interactions that go along with the environment and current context. However, the use of technology should be age appropriate in order to respect the development of the child. A 3 year old will not benefit from listening to a recording of two people speaking a different language , whereas a 9 year old will definitely do receive positive outcomes from it. Consequently, the use of technology should go along with the child’s needs and a little bit of challenge. Now, do 0-5 years old really need technology at daycare? NO. They need social experiences that hopefully help them develop the proper strategies to cope themselves in society.


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Is there a place for men in Early Childhood Education?

I have always been the girl who has more guy friends that girl friends. My hobbies were watching “The Champions League” every Tuesday and Wednesday with my male friends, playing FIFA on the Xbox, and going to the stadium to see my favorite soccer team on Sundays. Yes,I know. Very “masculine” hobbies for a sweat little girl. Then,  I moved to Canada and started studying “Early Childhood Education.” On my first day to a Canadian school environment, I came in to my first class and was not expecting anyone to talk to me because I was the foreigner. I got into the classroom, and what do I see? Only female classmates. I thought it was weird because I was used to being in a classroom with 15 girls and 17 boys. Suddenly, I remembered “Oh, this is Early Childhood. No boy is in this program.” A year later, I came into my Behavioral Intervention class and saw a guy sitting on the corner by himself. “He’s probably in the wrong class” I thought. My friends also noticed him. We bet that he was going to drop the class in the next weeks. Next week, we saw him;  next next week, we saw him; next next next week we saw him.”Hmm I guess he’s actually in the program” my friend said.  “Wow, a male educator. That is interesting” But why was it interesting?

As a society, we generalize certain professions by gender. In other words, we stereotype jobs and then classify them as more feminine or more masculine. “Men go to work, and women stay at home” they would said. In the past few years, there has been a change in society: gender roles. They have changed at home, at work, etc. Even though, 2 % of the educators are male; thescreen-shot-2015-05-07-at-11-52-14-am number of male educators have increased in the years. This is due to the increase of father involvement experienced in many millennial families.

Millennial fathers want something: respect. They want to be treated respectfully as equal partners in being part of their child’s life. They also want teachers to talk to them about their child rather than talking to their spouses. Fathers want social activities that include the family as a whole; especially, they want strategies to use to address certain issues, such as behaviors. Or simply, they just want strategies to obtain their children’s attention and get to know them better to develop stronger and meaningful bonds with their children. Clearly, while the value of the father is increasing in the family, the value of the men figure in early childhood is increasing as well. The more fathers are involved in their children’s life, the bigger the amount of men in the field we will have.

Now it is pertinent to answer the question.. Yes, there is a place for men in Early Childhood Education. A place that will hopefully bring many benefits to the program and philosophy. A place that will encourage early open-mindedness and help fade stereotypes from our young minds. However, Early Childhood Education programs should be serious and welcoming towards male. How are potential male educators going to find their passion if they do not feel welcome by the community? That is what we need to work on. Equally gender involvement and integration to be the best models for our children.

What is Gender Neutrality?

children-toysGender roles generally dictate series of norms which establish what is acceptable for a person based on their sex.  It is common to think that gender roles are only seeing in adulthood; however, this issue starts earlier on. According to UNICEF, ”The foundations for stereotypes in gender roles are laid through early gender socialization.”Since a woman discovers she is pregnant, she wonders only one thing: the sex of the baby. Many questions start to arise regarding the future of the baby; what he/she will like, what type of clothing he/she might wear, etc. If he is a boy, his first clothing will be probably blue, a color used for representing “masculinity” and “power”, whereas the newborn girl might wear pink clothing to show her “delicacy” and “calmness.”  Then, that child will get a specific toy depending on his/her sex; if it is a boy, he will get trucks or cars for his first birthday; if it is a girl, she will get the newest Disney princess toy. The problem itself is neither the pink nor the blue, it is the designated “norm” which will be reinforced in all the aspects of one’s life throughout their existence.

In a daycare environment where there are many children under the supervision of an adult, their reaction to life will be affected by the behaviors modeled by that “qualified adult.”  Certainly, children spend a lot of time in a childcare setting which should provide them with experiences that enable gender equality. Is that what happens in reality? Usually, educators who are seen as a role models for children, present a curriculum that supports gender stereotypical behavior which make children unconsciously internalize judgments and prejudices. To make it simpler, “Monkey see monkey do;” educators will model a behavior, and children will copy it. In the past, girls were expected to play with dolls or the kitchen area; and to be less aggressive. On the other side, boys were expected to be more aggressive and rough. It was not ok for them to cry because “Big boys don’t cry.”  All these behaviors and judgments, are learned at daycare, and reinforced at home, or the other way around. However, in the past few years, there has been a change in the way children behave and express their gender.

MillenFB_IMG_1446686937404nial educators have change their expectations. All children regardless of their sex or culture, displa
y behaviors and interests that once were seen as stereotypical for the opposite gender. The new era of  Early Childhood Educators (ECE) incline towards a Gender Free Curriculum where activities are based on the child’s interests and strengths, in order to help them receive the coping skills necessary to develop individualism within a group. The statement ”Every child is unique,”sums up what the new philosophy is; children must not be generalized because they are all different different. Childhood is the time to discover, try and explore new and age appropriate things. All children should be educated in a stereotype free environment which will help them relate to the open minded civilization we live in, and accept themselves with security.

Thus, we want the little ones to not be afraid of being themselves. We want them to develop in an environment which strongly discourages inequality and promotes experiences that enable them to fully explore their surroundings. It is about giving them the exposure to different gender types to encourage open-mindedness, which sadly our society lacks sometimes. Specially, we do not want to pressure them to like certain things. We want children to express their uniqueness freely.