It may seem hard to believe for us here in Boston, but the snow is melting and spring is just around the corner. Will you be using the season’s sunnier days to indulge in some spring cleaning? If so, don’t forget the toy box.
Our chief-scientist, Dr. Marina Bers, has studied child development for well over 15 years, and the importance of developmentally appropriate technology for young children pushed her to create KIBO, our robot kit, which uses wooden blocks — and no screens — to teach children between the ages of 4 and 7 to code.
Why is it so important that technology is developmentally appropriate for young children? At this age, the fundamentals are still forming: motor skills, cognitive skills, social skills and more. We believe that coding and technology should be considered one of these fundamental skills, however treating it as its own study is potentially harmful and unnecessary.
Stereotypes begin to form at a very early age, and treating technology as a special subject may alienate girls or those who don’t identify as technical. When incorporated into music, social studies or at home, it is disguised as open-ended play. Play that anybody can participate and succeed in. It helps children to think logically, reasonably, and work together to bring something to life without even realizing it.
It’s important to teach young kids about the abstract through something tangible. Young kids learn by doing — by playing with physical objects. To effectively learn programming and engineering without limits, they need materials modeled after traditional learning manipulatives and toys, such as wooden blocks and customizable platforms, as opposed to on-screen activities.
There are thousands of studies and opinions on the harmful effects of screen-time for children, but when it comes learning about technology and the way it works: tangible, customizable, open-ended play is best. So if your child is under seven, take a good hard look at your toy box. Throw away the complicated electronics and iPads (for now) and help them develop in the best way possible. Make way for a summer full of coding! And parents, trust us, KIBO will keep them occupied for hours — so you can enjoy more of that hard-earned sunshine.