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June Behrmann

June Behrmann is a longtime special education teacher (pre-K to grade 6) who retired for about two seconds, and is now prospecting for accessible instructional resources. Follow June on Twitter @aimnoncat. Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with us.

Early Childhood and Assistive Tech Apps to Share During NAEYC's "Week of The Young Child"

April 15, 2016

Want an abundance of apps including assistive technology to enrich learning skills for children from birth to age 8? They are flowing this week. Here's why!

Lots of learning

"The annual Week of the Young Child (WYOC) celebration from April 10-16, sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), focuses on the importance of an accessible, affordable and high quality early childhood education that is available for all of our children," says Mark Ginsberg, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University. He is formerly the executive director of the NAEYC, and he emphasizes that WYOC is important for communities nationwide.

Now is a critical time for early childhood programs to have the capacity and expertise to identify and provide necessary and appropriate education and care for young children with special needs, he notes. "As communities plan activities in collaboration with early childhood educators that are part of the Week of the Young Child, I invite special educators to become involved, support, engage and participate in the celebrations."

Children with disabilities

In order to make it easier to share resources about technology that benefits early childhood learners with disabilities, here are some tried and true apps that help the youngest students with disabilities be part of meaningful learning opportunities.

Thanks to Beth Poss who presented her carefully curated collection of apps in a three-part webinar last summer with the federally funded Center on Technology and Disability. She is an educational consultant and a special education administrator for the Montgomery County MD Public Schools.

Why these apps

Beth found these choices:

  • Are developmentally appropriate and address research findings for best practice
  • Offer purposeful activities to build language, play, and school readiness skills
  • Promote parent-child and peer-to-peer interactions

Some are free. Others must be purchased but these become the "assistive technology" tools that open doors to learning and communication at school, home and in the community. They help education teams meet the goals of Individualized Family Service Plans or Individualized Education Program plans that are created under federal special education law.

Beth advises that screen time and media should not ever dominate a young child's play but can support various types of learning. The three documents that follow list her "best bets" for building language, play, literacy, and early math skills.

Downloadable resources from the webinar

Together, apps in the different categories can be combined to:

  • Use an open-ended approach to support play and problem solving
  • Promote literacy, language and vocabulary development without drill and kill
  • Include rich, engaging activities that invite a high degree of interactivity and control by the user
  • Encourage fine and gross motor learning
  • Enhance interactions with adults or peers, rather than promoting solitary exploration
  • Provide culturally diverse content that is free of stereotypes
  • Meet a developmental need

All three webinars are free and posted online. Share the links with colleagues.

More resources

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"A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." — Chinese Proverb