Just when I thought I had seen it all – from urban farming in preschools to technology as a learning tool everything was imaginable, but little did I know that soon a day will come when robots will be a part of preschool development programs in the best preschools and play school franchises. Apparently, preschools in Singapore are going to test the benefits of having robots in the classrooms.
For parents like me who support innovations in ECE in order to improve early education, such remarkable educational developments are a welcome change. The ‘robot in preschool’ program could soon change the whole dynamics of early childhood education, but at the moment, the experiment is in its pilot stage.
The introduction of the program in preschools is expected to support the development of lesson plans as well as collaborative and interactive recreational engagement and storytelling in preschools. All of this while also taking the traditional teaching methodology into consideration.
Digging deep into the ‘robot in preschool’ program, let us discuss some instances that reveal how this new wave of learning will benefit the young learners:
During an exercise, a class of 3-year-olds sat together to interact with the robot. A small boy holds a picture in his hands which has the word “Rainbow!” written on it.
Gently, he places it over the play mat on the floor and takes the robot in his hands. The robot has 5 buttons on the side: left, right, forward, backward and go. The little learner nudges some of the buttons one at a time, and then he puts the robot on the floor and presses the go button. The robot then walks across the play mat, turns right and halts on the picture of the rainbow. The little learners applaud with excitement!
This small exercise has helped in teaching more than a few concepts to the young learners. In reading the button captions they have learned about basic vocabulary, by nudging the buttons to give the robot direction to reach the picture of rainbow they have learned skills like sequencing, logic building, word recognition and routing.
It is fascinating to see how technology is shaping the aptitude and skills of the next generation. These robots are the new age preschool teachers and they are smarter, sharper and much more patient than any teacher you have ever met. They are the best instructors for the inquisitive little learners, they don’t mind repeating their answers, they never scold (I bet children would love that!) and they can be as interactive as the present preschool teachers. Early educators can integrate these robots into their preschool lesson plans to develop various skills in their pupils.
Another great advantage of these robots is that they don’t require a computer screen, and considering that preschoolers aren’t supposed to get more than 2 hours of screen-time in a day, they are truly a blessing. Currently, the ‘robot in preschool’ program is being tested in preschools in Singapore and by next year, it is speculated that this technology will be prominent in more than 150 preschools across Southeast Asia.
In the end:
The small exercises conducted in preschools reveal that robots are helpful in engaging students as well as in getting parent feedback. However, as with any other technology, this innovative teaching approach cannot be successful unless teachers clearly understand how to integrate it into their lesson plans.
Also, despite the fact that they are using robots in classrooms, the teacher must not make the mistake of treating the young learners like them. Instead, they should use these robots as a tool to make their lessons more exciting and enlightening.