Draper Preschools
Computers at Preschool?
There is no question that computers will play a big role in the lives of today's children.  The issue we
what form.  

There is some anecdotal evidence that computers can be beneficial in early childhood education
settings.  That research comes almost entirely from children who are exposed to computers during the
course of full-day (8-10 hours) of childcare at a daycare center.  Those children have time to spare.

Remember, this information site is focused on part-day preschool, not full-day childcare.

The question then is refined down to
"should 3-5 year olds spend time on a computer in a 2-3 hour
preschool class"?

If the objective of computers at preschool is to build academic skills, most 3-5 year olds will spin their
wheels if left alone on a regular PC.  Consequently, one adult facilitator is required for every 4-6 children
using computers.  That is just to keep them focused and making forward progress.  Like reading too
early, this runs the risk of "drill and kill" if it is not executed thoughtfully.

One view is "absolutely NOT!"

Computer learning is a solitary activity. Those precious few daily
preschool hours are better utilized in social and interactive elements
of child development.

In 2013, almost all Utah families who pay to send their child to
, have PCs at home.  A better plan would be to turn off the
TV at home for 30 minutes several times a week and play with your
child on your computer.
A general consensus of most educators is that a large computer lab for
preschoolers (similar to those in elementary schools), where full classes of 3-5
year olds sit at their own computers is not developmentally appropriate and
misuses class time and resources that are better spent elsewhere.   
Computer Use in Preschools:
Directors' Reports of the State of the Practice

A research report derived from daycare computer use from Early Childhood Research and Practice

Link to the ECRP Report
Should computers be in preschools?

An article from Parent Map: Ages and Stages

Link to article by Julie Kumasaka, June 2006
Young Children's Initial Exploration of Computers
Mary Jo Graham & Steven R. Banks
Clearing House on Early Education and Parenting

This study presents the results of a one-year qualitative study. Observational and interview data were
collected on 12 preschool children concerning their initial computer use. Children had the choice to
use a computer during center time in their preschool. Initial computer use with a mouse was found to
occur at approximately 36 months. Some possible gender differences were noted. Girls tended to use
the computer to use the computer more as a solitary game. Children approached the computer in the
same way as they approach puzzles and other fine motor activities. Children were drawn away from the
computer by open-ended creative activities.  The time that children spent on the computer increased
with age, but the time periods were not excessive, from 5 to 20 minutes. Children tended to spend
longer at the computer in the presence of an adult. They often assumed a slouch typical of college
students in a computer lab. Implications of this early computer use are discussed with the
recommendation that computer use by preschool children be studied more thoroughly before
decisions about early computer use are made.

Link to full study
Don't judge a preschool by whether it has computers

Barbara F. Meltz, Boston Globe, September  2005

An interesting article that hits most of the highlights on the issue of computers in a preschool
Don't judge a preschool by whether it has computers PDF
A Sesame Workshop expert pokes holes in four common myths
about kids and computers.

Dr. Eric Strommen

This article does not directly address the question of computers in preschools but it does explore
some common misconceptions about computers and kids.  Dr. Erik Strommen is the former research
director of the Interactive Technology Division of Children's Television Workshop.  Note: Dr. Srommen's
examples primarily pertain to school age children, not preschoolers. It's good background information.

Link to article
Should your child's preschool get technical?

Carolyn Jabs, Sesame Workshop

Most educators agree that computers are important for children who can read, but feel that the
benefits for younger kids are not as clear.... The bottom line is not to worry if there isn't a computer in
your child's preschool.  This article discusses the issue.

Link to PDF