Young children thrive when they can grow and learn in a well-rounded environment steeped with engaging activities. In early childhood, children benefit from a curriculum that maximizes their interests and abilities — and that includes special interests like music, art, physical education and technology. “There is a lot that children learn every day, and enrichment programs give them something to look forward to,” explains Shelly Odell, Chief Operating Officer with Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool.
At Gilden Woods, 4- and 5-year-old children engage with a developmentally appropriate enrichment program that creates a holistic learning experience for each child. In addition to music, Spanish and fitness, children learn valuable technology skills through an innovative program called Tech Time With Terance. Incorporating Terance, one of Gilden Woods’ unique Woodland Friends who just happens to love technology, young students gain early math skills and have fun, too.
We spoke with Odell to learn more about the benefits of Tech Time With Terance for children at Gilden Woods. Read on to find out about how this immersive program builds technology skills at just the right pace for young children.
Mindful technology learning
At Gilden Woods, early childhood educators recognize that children are 21st-century learners who will use technology daily in elementary school. They also recognize the value of limiting screen time, so students engage in Tech Time once a week for about 25 minutes. During this time, they use research-based Khan Academy Kids apps and have fun with digital art, early math or early literacy lessons.
“We know that there are many programs available that claim to be educational, but that’s not always accurate. We did our research and found that Khan Academy Kids have tried and tested apps that are respected within the educational community,” Odell says.
Children enjoy Tech Time because they’re having fun, even if they aren’t immediately aware that they are building early literacy and math skills — even how to create digital art.
“When they work on digital art, they can make their own creations during Tech Time and even add a voiceover. Maybe they are making a picture of a flower or birds or a rainbow for mom or dad or a guardian, they can press the microphone button and learn how to access different elements of the program. They’re really capturing the moment of creating a piece of art but also using language to describe what they created,” Odell explains.
A teacher can then upload the child’s digital art directly to the child’s Nurture Report and the parent gets immediate access, along with information about all of the other daily activities their child has enjoyed.
Children build early math skills and learn how to spell simple words while mastering technology skills — and parents love this, Odell says.
“One of the pieces that parents especially like is that they can easily access the programs on their smartphones or tablets. Maybe they are waiting in the doctor’s office or want to supplement what their child learns at Gilden Woods. They have educationally sound, age-appropriate programs to help create a home-school connection,” she says. “Parents say this is so much better than watching mindless videos, and they can still limit screen time.”
Well-rounded academics and enrichment programs
In addition to Tech Time With Terance for 4- and 5-year-olds, children at Gilden Woods benefit from enrichment programs that are hands-on and engaging — and each has a social-emotional learning component to help build skills that are important for elementary school and beyond.
“For years, elementary schools have offered specials and we consider our enrichment programs to be similar to this. We all remember the fun of going to the music room and there’s much to be said for why these programs exist because they broaden a child’s horizons,” Odell says. “If you are shopping for a preschool program, it’s important to make sure these programs are offered.”
Gilden Woods Early Care and Preschool has southeast Michigan locations for toddlers and preschoolers ages 2 1/2 to young 5 in Troy, New Hudson, Howell and Commerce Charter Township. Learn more at gildenwoods.com.