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Collection: Early Childhood

purple arrowPreparing the Preschool Computer Environment

REFERENCE: Staff. (1993). "Preparing the Preschool Computer Environment." ACCTive Technology, 8 (1), 1, 3, 4-6. [Originally published as a chapter in Building ACTTive futures: ACTT's Curriculum Guide for Young Children and Technology. ]

Description of article:

: The authors stress the importance of the learning environment in ensuring a child's success in developing skills on the computer, including aspects such as:

More specifically, for the preschool child with special needs, the Building Active Futures program uses a problem-solving approach to stimulate general thinking skills. In designing the ideal environment so that the child discovers ideas and develops theories on his own, it is recommended:

Practice: Problem-solving strategies and teaching techniques are presented, and the benefits of computer and computer-related activities are discussed regarding the following points:

Physical Considerations: Numerous aspects of environmental design are important to consider when setting up the computer center. For example, adjust the height and angle of the monitor, making special adjustments for the child in a wheelchair or adaptive seating device.

Accessibility: It is important to view the computer as another classroom learning tool; its use should not be based on reward or punishment, but as an integral part of the curriculum.

Physical Design and Support Materials:
Provide an interesting and approachable environment for children in a defined area in the classroom. Choose support materials which will contribute to the transfer of concepts into different dimensions and environments. Suggestions include:

Ways to Introduce the Computer Center: Children need to share the responsibility for generating and keeping the rules; working in small groups encourages peer cooperation.

Organizational Patterns: Using the computer in group situations makes most effective use of computer time, but also requires a great amount of initial planning. Curriculum objectives to facilitate using the computer include:

Problem Solving Strategies and Teaching Techniques: Problem solving strategies and teaching techniques include:

Computer and Computer-Related Activities; Computer and computer-related activities can be developed which encourage the transfer and generalization of skills and concepts to other areas of the curriculum. For example, children with multiple disabilities who are candidates for alternate input or switch control can learn to use a switch with battery-operated toys. Such activities facilitate movement to computer activities and offer an opportunity for instant success. The child can make a successful transition, for example, from a switch operated toy to a program that responds to a single switch or any key press.


The authors conclude that while the integration of computers in the pre-school classroom is challenging, the results of creative efforts are rewarding. They also suggest that many of the activities currently in use will probably adapt easily to the computer.

CONTACT(S): ACTTive Technology, Project ACTT, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455

Macomb Projects, under the direction of Patricia Hutiner, Ed.D., professor of Early Childhood in the Department of Elementary Education/Reading at Western Illinois University, 27 Horrabin Hall, WIU, Macomb, IL 61455. (309) 298-1634

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998. 

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