In recent years, with the proliferation of digital tools, more and more educators have been incorporating blended learning in their teaching. So, what is blended learning? It is an educational approach that incorporates more than one learning method; in this article, it is used specifically to describe learning that combines digital and face-to-face learning.
Young children learn best through play and hands-on activities.
To support this learning and development, secure relationships with caregivers or teachers are important, as well as the availability of toys, games or other learning materials that encourages exploration. Media is but one of the many materials that support learning, notably by enlarging young children’s access to new content, as well as exposing them to content that they cannot usually experience in person.
We may frown on the use of technology due to screen time concerns.
The amount of screen time is important, but we should keep in mind how children spend time with technology. Read on to find out how you can use effective media as one of the materials that support active learning.
Distinguishing between Active and Passive Screen Time
First, we need to recognise that there is a distinction between active and passive screen time and the quality of the content. Non-interactive media such as television programmes can lead to passive viewing. On the other hand, active screen time actively engages children, gives them control, support conversation or self-expression, and encourage exploration to facilitate learning.
For instance, you can choose media that engages children through questions and elicits responses from them, or technology tools that require participation by both caregiver and child for a shared experience.
Striking a Balance
The bottom line is that the use of technology should be a complementary add-on that enhances learning. It should not replace communication, social interactions, and relationships with peers, caregivers and teachers, which are crucial for a child’s development.
For example, after watching a video together, you can engage in pretend play to act it out and discuss topics. Questions such as “how do you think he feels?” aid in their social-emotional development. Such follow up activities also serve as a fun and natural way to stop media use (without the whining)!
Knowing Your Child & Your Role
For infants and toddlers under the age of 2, such interactions and relationships with adults are of primary significance. Hence, the media should be highly restricted to supporting this relationship-building. For example, use it only for digital photo-viewing, virtual calls with loved ones, or co-reading an e-book. In subsequent years, at preschool-age, technology can be introduced to complement their learning, with an emphasis on joint activities that allow for shared experiences between the caregivers and the children.
Every child is unique, with their own needs, interests, and innate abilities. Having a good knowledge and understanding of your child at different ages goes a long way in designing the most effective learning environment for him/her, such as the activities, the tools to use, the routines, and the curriculum.
As the child’s primary caregiver - you play an important role, one that is irreplaceable by the teachers.
For instance, we may think we can leave the instruction of second language to the teachers, but language needs to be applied and used in daily life. One way we can do this is engage in fun day-to-day activities with our children while using the second language to support the continuity of their experience using second language in school.
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Banditvilai, C. (2016). Enhancing Students’ Language Skills through Blended Learning. The Electronics Journal of e-Learning, 14(3), p. 220-229. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1107134.pdf
National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College. (2012). Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8. Retrieved 15 April 2022 from https://www.naeyc.org/sites/default/files/globally-shared/downloads/PDFs/resources/position-statements/ps_technology.pdf
Quigley, E. (2019). What is Blended Learning? Retrieved on 15 April 2022 from https://www.learnupon.com/blog/what-is-blended-learning/
Shaw, B. (2020). What Is The Difference Between Active and Passive Screen Time For Teens? Retrieved 15 April 2022 from https://sustainhealth.fit/lifestyle/the-difference-between-active-and-passive-screen-time/#:~:text=Active%20screen%20time%20is%20when,absent%2Dmindedly%20through%20social%20media