Should Kindergartners Have iPads?

Should Kindergartners Have iPads?

It’s been shown that tots take to iPads like ducks to water. One school district in Maine will hand them out to 5-year-olds in the hopes of boosting reading skills.

An iPad pilot program in Auburn, Maine will put them in the hands of kids in certain classrooms in May and all six elementary schools in the district next fall.

Officials hope to improve literacy rates from 62 percent to 90 percent in two years with the iPad scheme. The school committee recently approved spending of about $200,000 for 285 iPads for both students and teachers.

“When you look at what the iPad 2 apps that are out there, from learning your letters from books, that can be read, finger painting your name, it’s absolutely something we must do,” said superintendent Tom Morrill.

A couple of people representing taxpayer groups at the hearing to approve the expense balked at the program.

One of them, Leroy Walker, leader of the United New Auburn Association, said the iPads “are not needed in the kindergarten age.” He called the tablet “a toy.” Kindergartners “are a little young to be starting off with iPads. They’re too expensive,” he said.

My first thought: while the iPad is a great teaching tool, kids this young probably already spend enough time playing with their parents’ computers at home, in the car etc. Kindergarten is probably a better place to run around pelting soft blocks at each other and real-world finger painting rather than staring at individual computer screens.

What do you think?

Via New Bangor News, WLBZ2

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  • Brittp2

    corporate/life/hand-eye skills start in K-8. Oh for sure let’s start our kids with the the real life skills of blocks and finger paints. Have no fear, they will relearn those primitive skills later on in life. Does the US want to lead in anything again, other than weapon deployment, we better start as young as we can as a nation with these kind of learning skills.

  • Less Spam Now

    What sort of learning skills are you referring to?
    From what I understand, these devices are extremely intuitive to use. If this is what the future of computing is going to look like, I doubt it needs to be taught in school.

  • T Sivonen

    iPads are these students soft blocks and finger paints. I am not in favor of making kindergarten too academic. Especially for students who clearly may not be ready. Our Federal laws require schools to teach reading and writing earlier than we did.

    Learning social skills is key at this age. But there isn’t a test for it. NCLB doesn’t include it.

  • OS2toMAC

    My son’s school here in Texas is piloting technology in the elementary school (K-4), one class for each grade. He is lucky enough to be in the class that has technology. They didn’t go with iPads for the kids (this year), but the teachers have them, and the kids use iPod Touches. It is allowing the teacher to do some pre-screening for what the kids know about a subject as she is about to start discussing it and can just reaffirm what they know without having to get into details.

    This is supposed to be a long term pilot. After they move on to the 5th grade, at that school they are getting immersed in technology for learning.

    I think it is great. It seems to keep the kids interested in the subjects more.

  • CharliK

    I can see where the fuss is coming from. They are expensive and there’s too much ‘bad’ stuff out there.

    But if they are used in class for limited times, using carefully vetted apps and all restrictions turned on (although I think Apples needs to extend those to all built in apps including settings but that’s a different discussion), I don’t see what the huge fuss is. This is the future and waiting until the ‘right age’ is just a bad move.

    ANd it isn’t like you can’t use the ipad for spelling drills etc for say an hour and then go finger paint, etc.

    Heck get them started young and perhaps we can finally teach kids that these are not toys where anything goes and halt the whole ‘sexting’, facebooking in class etc nonsense. AND teach kids out to be safe when they are on the computer. I mean we teach Kindergarteners about ‘bad touch’ and ‘stranger danger’ in real life but what about online. No one even seems to teach middle school kids about that stuff and we get kids disappearing cause they went to mean some ‘kid’ they were talking to online that wasn’t a kid at all.

  • CharliK

    I can see where the fuss is coming from. They are expensive and there’s too much ‘bad’ stuff out there.

    But if they are used in class for limited times, using carefully vetted apps and all restrictions turned on (although I think Apples needs to extend those to all built in apps including settings but that’s a different discussion), I don’t see what the huge fuss is. This is the future and waiting until the ‘right age’ is just a bad move.

    ANd it isn’t like you can’t use the ipad for spelling drills etc for say an hour and then go finger paint, etc.

    Heck get them started young and perhaps we can finally teach kids that these are not toys where anything goes and halt the whole ‘sexting’, facebooking in class etc nonsense. AND teach kids out to be safe when they are on the computer. I mean we teach Kindergarteners about ‘bad touch’ and ‘stranger danger’ in real life but what about online. No one even seems to teach middle school kids about that stuff and we get kids disappearing cause they went to mean some ‘kid’ they were talking to online that wasn’t a kid at all.

  • CharliK

    Studies have shown that if you neglect creative activities in the early years, the kids don’t learn them later anymore than they learn the social skills. They need the blocks and finger paint stuff just as much as they do the number drills and even the ‘how to behave’ lessons.

    And yet a number of schools have dropped their art, music etc are less important because they don’t get funding for said programs like they do the rest. And they end up graduating kids that are great at reciting back facts and numbers but can’t actually think critically and creatively

  • Barbara

    Technology, including iPads, is critical to teaching children to read in new ways. Literacy rates in children with access to technology (of all sorts) is dramatically higher than for ones who don’t. I have personal experience with this. My kids are both good readers, but my older son was uninterested in reading when he was in 1st grade. That is until he saw me playing Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. When I told him he’d have to be able to read to play it, he dramatically changed how he approached his reading homework and worked very hard to get his daily half hour of play sitting on my lap while I helped him figure out how to add abilities to his characters. When he was 8, I gave him a copy of Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap along with the game guide. 2 months later, his teacher complimented me on teaching him how to do research. I told her what I’d done with the game & book, and she immediately told me she was going to pass it on to some of the other parents.

  • nintendad

    What a great dad! Congrats on getting your kids gaming early. Mine started with SNES.

  • jack7507

    Our method of education, especially K -12 has not changed much in almost a century. Yet the innovation and technological advances we have made in this country (in the same time) is astounding. We have reached a level of complacency where most states has dropout rates close to 50% in high schools. Most of these kids will end up in prison or be dependent on some sort of welfare. We need to address the need to educate our children better to embrace the challenges of tomorrow.

    It starts when they are born, with the parents. If the kids have a great foundation and a passion for learning, they will succeed even if in troubled school systems. Early learning is key to every child’s academic success. Tools such as the iPad create a whole new arena of opportunity for parents to motivate and empower their children at a very young age. There are some awesome apps for early learning out there.

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app

  • Pascal Brunet

    Like everything else, it’s all about balance. If you spend the time playing with your kids on the iPad, they will learn. That’s doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be playing with blocks or painting. It’s just one more activity you can share with them.

    We play with our kids on the iPod and iPhone (still waiting for iPad2 to arrive!) and they are learning to read and do math so much earlier than I ever did when I was a kid. My 4 yo daughter spells in two languages, my little 2.5 yo guy flicks the pages to the Cat in the Hat and loves it.

    We don’t leave them with the iPod/iPhone and go away – we sit with them and participate. That’s the key. Just like watching Sesame Street, really…

  • Aron_arty

    I have used tech to teach my 1.5 year old to read. We are thinking of getting him an Ipad to help him continue to be stimulated. We play with blocks and he paints and colours, spends time with his friends but we have started something we feel needs to be continued and technology is one of the best ways we see for early learning. As has been stated in other comments, it is about spending time with them that helps them develope. Don’t use it as a babysitter or distraction, but as a tool for teaching and you will have smarter kids.

  • Mike

    Its amazing that we have been able to teach children how to read without the iPad for some time. I really don’t understand how its “CRITICAL”. Do you know what “CRITICAL” means? Critical would be something like having parents spend time with their children. The children that can’t read are the ones who were set in front of a television or in this case “iPad” and left to their own devices.
    Good Parenting is CRITICAL! iPads are a nice new medium.

  • Mike

    Reading game text and being able to read and comprehend a book or a news paper (blog) article are not the same thing. Congratulations at helping him develop A.D.D.

  • Stuart Otterson

    Regardless of the merits, at least when you’re buying an Apple tablet, you know you’re not going to be spending as much money on tech support as you might with another tablet. It’s a good investment, guaranteed to have plenty of software, reliable long lasting hardware and once they’re use comes to an end I guarantee someone will want to buy one off you. It’s money well spent in my view, might sound hefty but in the long run it’ll pay deviance. I hope in 5 years times I’ll be reading Cult of Mac articles about how the investments have paid off handsomely. :)

  • datamanapp

    Parents, there’s an app that can help limit the time spent by your kids on iPads: Game Time Limit for Parents. The app enables parents to set a timer which limits the amount of game playing (or screen) time the child gets. When the timer ends, a “Time’s Up” alarm appears on the screen, preventing the child from playing further. The only way to stop the alarm is for the child to hand the iPad over to the parent who will enter a passcode to disable the alarm.

    Getting your child to stop playing games on your iPad will never be the same again. No nagging, no last reminders, no threats required. Just let the app do its job. Sit back, relax…. soon, your child’s probably on his way to bring your iPad back to you :)

  • Bstafford

    What has changed are the barriers to being able to read that kids are coming to school with. Teachers are constantly trying to overcome students’ skill deficiencies and also trying to move students even further along in reading AND math because of high stakes testing. More to teach, less time to do it to students with less skills when they enter school. What happens when a child enters school and does not recognize the letter A? How do you undo that damage? I think technologies like the iPad can overcome these obstacles.

  • mj

    Technology isn’t going to turn a child into a genius any more than strict adherence to the three Rs and paper and pencils turned anyone into a genius.

    Exposure to technology has many benefits – including important socialisation. I notice this because we have a split family, together at the weekends. The children who live here 7 days a week are exposed to every type of technology and are confident to try. The children who do not are nervous about new things and have less well-developed reading and manipulation skills (for their age).

    I help my eldest with his homework but it’s not hard to see how little homework engages the child. We’re living in the most distracting era the world has ever known but we’re still expecting children to learn by scratching carbon sticks onto dried wood pulp?

    Our learning tools have to be competitive with the leisure tools that kids have access to if you want them to want to learn. Back in my day, books were extremely compelling but still made of ink and wood pulp. I appreciate them due to my age. Kids need to have an experience of learning that compares to the other distractions in their lives.

  • mj

    The difference being that it’s proven that kids get better at reading when engaged through technology. Where’s your source for technology creating ADD?

    (and you’ve seen the research linking ADD diagnosis and the rise of standardised testing?)

  • JohnnyPensive

    I was raised in a family of educators and they concur that spending more money in the classroom has never solved anything in education! With all the technology available to U.S. kids today; why do U.S. children today compare/compete so unfavorably with countries using far less technology in the classroom? We could better address the problems of our “intellectually-challenged” (politically correct for ignorant) children by returning to the basics of education that are performing so well in many other countries. Is it so difficult to emulate what is working in the countries that are kicking our “butts” when it comes to education? Have you ever wondered or asked yourself what these other countries are paying to educate their children….? Look it up; Google it – a fraction of what the U.S. pays per pupil!
    WE are now raising a bunch of spoiled attention deficient disorder brats. Methods of education that are not entertaining and cannot be done on a “magic box” with a few buttons to press with pretty pictures are now being denounced as not “progressive” and therefore not an effective teaching technique! Whether computers, I Pads, IPhones or other electronic progressive educational tool; they need to be introduced into education of our children very carefully. Stop the insanity of throwing money at
    “progressive” educational tools for classrooms that have done little to improve the slide of our children into to mediocrity and ignorance. STOP THE INSANITY! Money for education should be for infrastructure maintenance and to award educational excellence (e.g. teacher performance).
    Kindergartener’s with IPADS – they better be strapped down and that school district better have a good maintenance contract – GOOD LUCK!

  • Smwhite20

    I believe in the Head,Heart,Hand approach to learning and see it will be too easy to leave kids to their own devices with the iPad without the human connection. Kids already watch way too much tv, videos, etc. I think iPad can be a tool if use very sparingly with lots of adult interaction. And I agree totally with the comment about playing with other kids. Lets not forget the social part of kinder. iPad doesnt teach real time social skills, like sharing, empathy, kindness.

  • Jay

    HARD WORK not the iPad, smaller class sizes and better PARENTING can over come “those” obstacles. Who is to blame for your kid not knowing the letter “A”??? The teacher? Your poor economic conditions? Because you can’t afford technology? How about your lazy self that is unwilling to spend time reading to your kid and instead plopping your fat self in front of the TV and wasting time.
    Read to your children and they will know the letter “A”!

    Regarding more things to teach and less time to do it in, are you kidding? Basic Math and Basic English have not changed in a VERY long time! There is nothing more to teach. Students today are more behind than our parents were in school. Employers in every industry are unwilling to hire kids out of high school and sometimes college because they are under prepared; lacking such things as BASIC MATH and READING COMPREHENSION. This has not CHANGED! Good excuse , now drop the excuses and READ to your children!!!!

    Instead of wasting 600 dollars on a technical toy and then saying you are in a poor economic situation and have to always work to put food on the table, save the money and spend time with your child, READ to them. You waste your money on garbage and then say that you have no money and thus can’t spend time with your child because you have to work to make money to buy more expensive garbage.

  • world_exposer

    No such thing as ADD or ADHD it’s a term created by pharmaceutical companies. According to the “diagnosis” of ADD and ADHD only less than 5% of the children diagnosed meet the definition.

  • Barbara

    The stats on attention disorders and video games were developed using fast paced games like first person shooters. Believe it or not there are a LOT of games that don’t have that type of interaction. My kids read text based games with strategy components (like Civilization), game guides, and have since developed into highly proficient readers. My 5th grader tested last year in 4th grade as reading at a college level. My 8th grader is taking advanced classes in history and English language arts. I have an M.Ed. in English Education, am completing a Ph.D. in technology in education, and have used the technique I described with multiple kids over the last 5 years. It is almost fool proof. Even the kids who were diagnosed with “A.D.D” were able to make significant advances in their reading comprehension and fluency levels.

  • David Bunn

    I just reviewed an article about handing out iPad’s to K students along with responses and affordability of an iPad. Giving a student who can’t write much less read a pad of paper and a pencil hasn’t been working and I would consider the possibilities.

    1. McGraw Hill probably the largest provider of text books in America has already started to convert books to a digital format.
    2. Consider the cost within any School District that will purchase, storage and manage text books.
    3. Students don’t have to take there iPad’s home and can be configured specifically to learning.
    4. Please consider that you are not looking at the iPad but everything that goes with the iPad. It has the ability to teach a student to play a piano or a guitar and read music.
    5. iBooks alone can expand the library for a School District at a fraction of the cost of trying to collect books to fill a school library and will engage students to read more.
    6. Teachers who are successful could be videoed and used as a mentoring tool for teachers who are struggling and not making the required level of success.
    7. Collaboration between successful school districts can share and create models that work and remove models that are not achieving the desired results.
    8. This technology has the ability to change the way we teach, learn and engage young minds that otherwise are not engaging with there mentors and teachers.
    9. There are public and private foundations that will assist in the procurement of this type of Technology so before you say you can’t afford it you should have someone research what is available.
    10. The United States is failing to teach our kids the basics and any technology that is immerging should be considered for all that it can do, your comments are one of just looking at the numbers and not considering the long term ROI and cost reductions that if managed correctly will save the City, State over the long run.
    11. Colleges are already starting to adopt this technology as a way to take a small college and partner with colleges such as Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Texas as a way to get smaller schools access to world class professors and lectures that a small college student could never get access to due to cost.

    This technology will have a universal impact on education moving forward. Please don’t tell the world what you can’t do but take the time to find out what you can do.

About the author

Nicole MartinelliNicole Martinelli heads up Cult of Mac Magazine, our weekly publication available on iTunes. You can find her on Twitter and Google+. If you're doing something new, cool and Apple-related, email her.

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