It has long been the job of teachers and parents to provide safe spaces for young children to explore the world. As parents, we take them on errands around the community, visit parks, libraries, and local surroundings. As teachers, we provide areas in our classrooms that simulate the real world. Dramatic play areas, block centers, art areas, and various other spaces that simulate thematic and real world experiences. I am a huge advocate of play, but also an advocate of reassessing the needs of our children to make sure the opportunities we provide are reflective of the world in which they live. This means we have a responsibility to evaluate the digital world and find ways that we can safely provide children opportunities to navigate this reality.
Consider this traditional play experience as children set up their own restaurant as part of their free play. Now, add to it the possibility of having children take photos and videos to document their play, share it with others, and reflect on it to come back to at a later time.
How could we elevate learning if children are able to share their play experience with restaurant owners, chefs, and other children who are playing similarly around the world?
The experience of elevating free play gives new value to the role of the child, and helps them to navigate their place in a digitally connected culture.
This post is meant to be a space for teachers, parents, and advocates of children to ask questions and consider what it means to raise digital citizens. At this point, research is very much in its infancy as the experience of digital citizenship and its place in early childhood is still quite new.
Questions to think about as you explore here:
What is my current belief on technology and young children?
What are the possible challenges children can encounter when experiencing life in a digital age?
What are the advantages of growing up in a time where global connection is possible?
How old is my child or the children with whom I work? How does their age impact the ways in which I model and help them interact digitally?
The following is a list of resources for you to explore to begin to develop your own ideas about how you approach #innovatingplay with your child/ren.
Scientists Say Child's Play Helps Build a Better Brain
Young Children at Play
A joint position statement of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College
Setting up Successful Play Expectations
The Wonder of Learning
How to Use Digital Media with Young Children