How to teach young children in the digital age

A new report recommends how to integrate digital media effectively into young children's education.

As research suggests more than half of children ages 5-8 have used a mobile device such as a smart phone, iPod touch, or iPad, a new report offers recommendations for how policy makers and education leaders can take a more robust and modern approach to helping young students learn and develop in the digital age.

Take a Giant Step,” from the Digital Age Teacher Preparation Council, finds that the integration of innovative, research-based training models for early childhood educators is a key element missing in the design of high-quality early learning programs.

The Digital Age Teacher Preparation Council, established by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and co-chaired by Stanford University professor Linda Darling-Hammond and Cooney Center Executive Director Michael H. Levine, reviewed research from foundations and government agencies and discovered that fewer than half of all early learning programs in the U.S. are considered high quality and promote significant learning among underserved students.

In light of recent reports—such as Common Sense Media’s “Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America“—revealing that today’s children consume up to 7 hours of media daily, some organizations, including the National Association for the Education of Young Children, are updating their professional practices to guide learning and development for today’s digital-age children.

“Take a Giant Step” says policy makers can learn from these efforts, and it calls on teacher preparation programs to integrate into their curricula more research on how young children learn. It also recommends that early learning programs take more advantage of free digital assets created by public media (such as PBS) to reach a new generation of digital-savvy learners.

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