For any parent who has recently looked into the WA school curriculum, you may have noticed something a little different to what we studied at school back in the day – Digital Technologies.
There’s no doubt about it – we are living in a digital world and those who fail to embrace the tech are quickly left behind. Gone are the days of having a banking passbook, you require an email address for almost every single service, and businesses hardly ever accept a CV handed in over the counter anymore.
Some will argue that kids should be shielded from technology, that the use of tech is detrimental to their development. To this I say, there needs to be a balance. Developing early coding skills is essential to success later in life, but if you think that all this involves is plopping your toddler down in front of the tellie, you’ll be doing more harm than good.
First of all, we need to understand what exactly ‘technology’ means in this context. Technology is multifaceted and doesn’t solely involve a screen, and you can start to develop early coding skills in your kids without using a single piece of electronic equipment. In fact, Australian and International guidelines recommend children under 2 have no screen time whatsoever and kids under 5 be limited to less than an hour per day.
So what are these early coding skills that I’m harping on about? It’s basically the knowledge, understanding, and skills required for computational thinking, which in itself is being able to think outside of the box, to problem solve, and to break down data into manageable pieces. To kick start your child’s journey, you can use counting, sorting, and matching games to give them a great base. You can buy any number of kids’ toys for this or you can simply use items found around your home.
Of course, there are other, more expensive gadgets out there to help develop these skills but not all family budgets can accommodate them. This is why Better Beginnings at the State Library of WA are trialling a Tech Taster Pilot program so families can experience the tech without having to fork out the big bucks. The kits have pre-coding toys as well as tangible tech such as early coding resources like Code-A-Pillars, Bee Bots, and Cubettos. These are the next level up, giving kids the opportunity to write basic codes without screens in order to move a robot around a mat. They teach not only problem solving and critical thinking skills but also core programming concepts such as algorithms, debugging, and recursions.
The Osmo Little Genius is an early learning tool designed for iPads that teaches early literacy skills, problem solving, fine motor skills, as well as promoting creativity and imagination. This, along with book and educational game apps that require a tablet are also part of the Tech taster Pilot. Parents will be able to get a feel for all of these different options over the course of the Pilot and of course, kids will have fun playing too!
The Pilot will go until mid-January so keep an eye out on the Bindoon Library Facebook page for info regarding sessions. Parents who home school are also encouraged to reach out regarding the Pilot. You can contact me on 9576 4610 or email email@example.com