These days, young kids – even toddlers in strollers – are playing with smartphones and tablets. But what kinds of games, apps, and stories are they consuming? Are they supporting their development or doing harm? How can educators tap into this technology to support academic skills, and even social and emotional learning?
Through Every Hour Counts’ national partnership with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, I recently attended a conference with public television stations from around the country who participate in Ready To Learn – a children’s media program that uses engaging, educational digital content to prepare kids for success in school. Ready To Learn particularly targets kids from low-income communities and builds tools and programming to close the achievement gap. Their model works: A number of studies have found that Ready To Learn programs boost kids’ reading skills – and kids from low-income backgrounds make the greatest improvement.
At the conference, PBS debuted a new show called Odd Squad. The Odd Squad agents work in teams, using math skills to investigate each new case, and remain dedicated to solving the case even when their initial efforts are unsuccessful, teaching kids collaboration and persistence. I saw new online games that allow kids to try on adult roles and connect with PBS characters while learning math and literacy skills. And I saw how an app called Super Vision can help parents and teachers track children’s skills over time and offer plans for improvement.
While many children engage with this content at home – on their televisions and mobile devices – Ready To Learn also offers tools to keep the learning going in classrooms and beyond.
Check out PBS Kids Lab for a variety of turn-key resources (like activity plans, training materials, and video clips) for the expanded learning field to take advantage of the latest, greatest tools for digital learning so that you know when your students are on a digital device, the activities have been vetted to be high-quality and enriching.