An Educational Vacation: Preschools and Technology
There are two things we can do to increase our children’s educational opportunities—preschool and tech. While technology was created to replace or augment education, it is well known that young children benefit from being in close proximity to technology, learning from their peers, seeing how it makes their day-to-day lives run, and looking at famous people and the art of networking.
In fact, a 2013 study found that attending a tech-focused preschool is correlated with increased vocabulary, better academic and social skills, and a wider variety of academic and social skills. These are all components that are critical to success in kindergarten, as well as over the next several years in middle school and high school.
The question then becomes how can we afford to give our children such opportunities? The answer is as simple as filling our evenings and weekends with activities that support learning and encourage creativity.
During the summer months we encourage our kids to play outside. Whether it is going for a run on the asphalt with your toddler or walking with a dog to the river, it is important to have that physical activity.
Those days out are also valuable learning days for children who may not be able to get out much in the winter or school breaks when classes are in session.
At weekdays and weekends, we choose to have fun activities rather than technology-focused activities. Creating simple puzzles and games or making warm chocolate milk for dinner offer our kids an opportunity to learn important academic and social skills, make new friends, and, of course, have fun.
Childcare is another way to provide kids with the academic, social, and physical resources they need. Research has shown that early childcare is particularly beneficial for young children, since learning is often secondary to socialization and play at this age.
While this may seem like a luxury, the fact is that childcare costs vary widely around the country. As an example, a one-hour child care session at a Florida childcare costs an average of $3300 a year. That is close to two months of child care for an average family.
We can all work together to find deals and give opportunities to all families. How we structure or schedule childcare will contribute to the overall cost of our families’ annual budgets.
If we don’t use the time that we spend with our children as an educational opportunity, I am not sure it really makes any difference what they do during the day. But, once we start to provide opportunities, it’s important to make it a priority to continue to provide opportunities for our children.
This series of articles is intended to provide insight into how families can create their own preschool and technology plans and make them sustainable. Educators and parents are often asked about technology use in the classroom or in a childcare setting, but no one has ever asked about or discussed the balance of learning and screen time in the home.