Access to technology is an important part of any 21st century library’s mission. Access should not be limited to adults and school children. Very young children quickly grasp computer basics and are drawn to computers perhaps because they provide important multi-sensory experiences and offer engaging and stimulating visual action. Computer use by preschoolers consists of self discovery and assists the development of:
It is especially rewarding, albeit challenging, to hear uncontrolled laughter or loud comments about the story or action coming from the preschool computer area. Children wearing headphones are even louder than those without, and it is a most difficult staff decision to approach and suggest they quiet down a bit – you don’t want to inhibit their enjoyment, but it is a multipurpose children’s room.
Some favorite early childhood software include:
Traditional computers are fine for preschoolers, but the library could also provide a computer with a special large keyboard and trackball instead of a standard mouse which not only assist very young children who are still developing fine motor skills, but also are wonderful adaptive technology additions for certain special needs populations.
Parents, too, can benefit through library technology. Parents should be encouraged to work with their preschooler; the library should provide two stools, two sets of headphones for each computer to make this possible. Not only does this provide a way for all parents to guide the experience of the child and simply enjoy the playtime together, but also it provides a wonderful opportunity for parents with low computer skills to gain confidence and perhaps some new skills in a comfortable environment.
The library website should offer resource links for parents in areas of development, parenting, activities and entertainment. For families, the American Library Association’s 700+ great sites at http://www.ala.org/parentspage/greatsites/ is an excellent “clearinghouse” for a variety of reviewed sites for all ages, including preschool, under subjects such as arts and literature, science and more.
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