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Fred Rogers was a technology pioneer when he launched Mr. Roger's Neighborhood in 1968. Television was once the newest technology, followed by video game consoles and computers. Today, our children live in a digital age that is far different from their parents and grandparents. Yet, Fred Rogers continues to provide the best approach to technology: use technology with rather than instead of.
Oakhill Day School is committed to technology instruction across all divisions, with special consideration given to appropriate use in early childhood. In 2012, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, in conjunction with the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media at Saint Vincent College, issued their position statement on the role of Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs. After careful review of this statement as well as our current use of technology at Oakhill Day School, we are excited to broaden our technology program.
Starting with the 2015-16 school year, iPads will be part of all early childhood classrooms, Toddler through Prekindergarten. Appropriate technology use in the early development years is critical. According to NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center, when used intentionally and appropriately, technology and interactive media are effective tools to support learning and development. At Oakhill Day School, use of the iPads is carefully planned, just as is learning with other materials. Selected apps provide instruction to support and integrate with grade level curriculum and meet individual needs.
iPads are uniquely developmentally appropriate for early childhood students. Many students arrive at Oakhill Day School with experience using iPads, cell phones or other similar devices. The touch screen allows learners' developing motor skills to practice those skills "risk free" on another medium. In addition to apps that mimic real life games such as puzzles, other apps provide multiple approaches to early literary and mathematical learning that are visual, auditory and kinesthetic (touch).
Another key message listed in the position statement is that limitations on the use of technology and media are important. Although the iPad is a "screen" device, it is what teachers and students are doing with them that differentiates them from being "screen time." We recognize that many children already have plenty of screen time at home. Our approach is to use iPads as another tool that provides students with a different medium for learning. iPads are learning tools and are used as such. iPads aid in the discovery aspect of our learning as well as the excitement of documenting these discoveries, using our language to tell others about it and practice or extend the learning.
While the iPad can be a great learning tool on its own, just as blocks and crayons are, the social interaction that occurs when using an iPad is by far the most important aspect of this technology. At Oakhill Day School, iPad integration will be carried out through small group as well as independent, individual use in a centers approach. iPads allows students to take pictures, record their voices, and video tape themselves, their environments and others to show what interests them and tell about their new learning in their words.
Oakhill Day School recognizes that technology is embedded in the lives of our young children more so than ever before. Our children are being raised in a world where they have instant access to information, where they control the flow and access of that information through their fingertips, mouse, remote control, or a video game controller. Oakhill Day School uses technology as a way of enhancing its educational mission, encouraging the school community to be good citizens and, over time, to internalize our core values.
"We have to help give children tools, building blocks for active play. And the computer is one of those building blocks. No computer will ever take the place of wooden toys or building blocks. But that doesn't mean they have to be mutually exclusive."
(Kleeman, "Beyond Screen Time - Fred Rogers Center - Blog")
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By choosing an independent private education, you have the opportunity to choose a school whose philosophy, values, and teaching style fit your child. Independent private schools can also offer your family small class sizes, excellent teachers, and high academic standards.
Oakhill Day School is a place where children discover themselves as learners in a community where they feel valued and known. We invite you to learn more about the active learning that happens here!