Many schools are aware of the importance of including computers in the education of primary children and utilise them for learning in technology labs and in regular classroom settings. The computer's use must be monitored so that educators use it for learning and not babysitting or time-killing because, when used effectively, this amazing tool provides valuable foundation skills that help young students succeed in later grades and in a technology-rich society.
Students in upper grades use computers more extensively each year for research, communication and presentations. Students are expected to be proficient in word processing and at least exposed to research skills as early as 3rd and 4th grade. In order to be successful in later grades, primary students must learn foundational technology skills just as they learn the foundations of any other subject in school. Learning to write and compute math takes years of practice in early grades. Learning to navigate through programs and the tools of technology using the computer takes years of practice as well.
Computers open the door to the world as textbooks and lectures never did, generating a global outlook at an early age. Rather than simply seeing a local farm on a field trip, students can participate in interactive virtual field trips around the globe. This increases student understanding and creates connections that lend depth to primary learning. Virtual field trips are unaffected by budget cuts and weather.
Interactive computer learning programs for primary grades have proliferated on the Internet. Ignoring these or others programs available for purchase to concentrate solely on "old-school" methods such as showing still pictures on the overhead projector, lecturing and pointing to informational posters, leaves a teacher with disengaged learners. Today's child often comes to the primary classroom already technologically savvy, having been exposed to video games, online learning games and a fast-paced communication web of e-mails, video phone service and even interactive social game rooms for primary-aged kids. Computers become an important part of the learning process as teachers work to keep technology-trained young brains engaged through the wealth of interactive learning programs available to school districts through the Internet and commercial purchasing.
The No Child Left Behind law helped to bring about a need for more testing and accountability in the primary grades. Reading, writing and math skills are tracked from the time a child enters primary school to help ready students for state testing. Traditional testing takes time away from classroom learning. Using computer programs that test student skills and programs that correlate testing data into information teachers can use to guide instruction allows more time for learning in primary classrooms.
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