Young preschooler and mom looking at tablet, repreesenting technology for preschoolers

Digital Technology for Preschoolers: A Montessori Approach

As families continue to stay home together, we’ve prepared some tips about technology for preschoolers. The Montessori approach, as you know, is based on connecting the young child with the real world. But real experiences are severely limited during this unprecedented time. So how can screen time for children support Montessori education? More importantly, how can technology for preschoolers nurture optimal development?

Consider the Purpose

Studies show it’s not the amount of time spent with digital technology (“screen time”) but the quality of the content of this technology for preschoolers that matters for child development. Equally important is the intent of the technology used.

The Montessori approach to children and technology is to avoid using technology as a substitute for a real-world experience or interaction. Of course, with the real world still cordoned off in many ways right now, there is an important gap that digital technology for preschoolers can fill.

Extensions and Variations

The teachers at Montessori Center School keep children’s interest engaged by offering new choices related to activities the children already enjoy. You can use the Internet to extend your child’s interest in any topic by helping him or her find related videos, pictures, and articles. You can also offer variations on a favorite activity—maybe find reptile pictures to create a matching game similar to a mammal game your child already enjoys.

Preschoolers in Montessori Center School garden
When real-world extensions of children’s interests (like gardening) aren’t available, screen time is an alternative.

Sites to Visit with Your Child

The following websites offer technology for preschoolers that you can enjoy alongside your child. By focusing on educational content, screen time for children isn’t as critical of a concern.

Scholastic Learn at Home: Grades PreK–K. This site features animal, plant, earth, and space studies, as well as social learning, such as a unit on “kindness.” There are topical books to read, along with activities and games to play with your child.

PBS Kids: If your children watch PBS television, they can play games featuring familiar and new characters. Most of the games use animation, but there is some live action.

TIME for Kids: Time magazine for children in kindergarten and first grade has plenty of real-life content. A drop-down menu offers topics from Animals and Art to World.

National Geographic Kids: The National Geographic website is for children of all ages, with animal-, nature-, and geography-related games, live-action videos, and photo collections.

Learning Games for Kids: Math, phonics, and reading games and songs. Though the aesthetic is largely cartoon-based, parents may find some content useful to explore a topic or practice a skill a child is interested in.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids: This site offers interesting content on history, animals, weather, and more. Look up today’s moon phase or identify animal tracks!

Spatulatta: Cooking for kids with videos showing real children (with adult supervision) making yummy dishes. Complete recipes and instructions are given. Food categories run the alphabetical gamut from Appetizers to Vegetarian. Preschool games that let children practice skills such as counting, shape and color identification, sorting, letters, and more. The graphics are cartoon characters.

Internet Resources for Parents

Use these sites to fill your parents’ bag of tricks with activities, craft ideas, and more.

San Francisco’s Exploratorium: The website of the Exploratorium, located at the Palace of Fine Arts. On the Explore menu, click Activities for a collection of easy-to-implement science demonstrations using household supplies. Or browse by area: physics, history, engineering, and more. The Tinkering Studio shows projects you and your child can build together, from kinetic sculptures to circuit boards.

My Kids’ Adventures: Science-focused activities and upbeat encouragement on ways to share the world with your children. Includes a podcast series.

The Stay-At-Home Mom Survival Guide: From an indoor “snowball” toss to sensory exploration with shaving cream, these 80+ preschool activities will replenish your supply of learning fun.

25 Indoor Play Ideas: Ideas for how to get moving when it’s just too hot to go outside.

Best Livestreams for Kids to Watch: This list from Good Housekeeping compiles the best content-focused technology for preschoolers: zoocams, story readings, sing-alongs, yoga workouts, and more.

Father and son engaging in screen time for children on a laptop
Make sure to engage with the content your child is watching alongside them.

The goal with technology for preschoolers is to relate the content back to real-world concepts and topics that your child is interested in. Encourage them to learn more about their areas of interest, and learn alongside them as they go!