The “Unplugged” Approach to Exploring Computer Science
Children these days are born into a technological world. The children in our care need to learn technology skills just as much as the other skills they traditionally learn. Exploring computer science has become as important as learning to read and write. Computer science, coding, and other related skills may seem too advanced for young children. However, establishing a strong foundation in this area is just as valuable as the other skills introduced in early childhood.
Obstacles to exploring technology, such as expensive devices, limits on screen time, and developmentally appropriate practices may seem to restrict what preschoolers can learn about computer science. However, many associated skills can be learned in a variety of playful and fun ways in an unplugged environment.
Unplugged merely means that computational thinking skills associated with computer science and coding are taught without the use of computers. Taking an unplugged approach provides opportunities for all children to practice skills, even in learning environments that do not incorporate computers or tablets. It allows skills to be taught in developmentally appropriate ways that can help children learn the foundational concepts and skills that will be used later in life.
An unplugged approach teaches actual technical concepts using puzzles, games, art, and other hands-on activities that do not require the use of a computer or other technology. You may be surprised to discover that many of these activities may already be familiar to you and the children. Many resources can be found online with activities and ideas for teachers on coding and other tech skills.
- CS Unplugged – https://www.csunplugged.org/en/
- CS Fundamentals Unplugged – https://code.org/curriculum/unplugged
- Classic Computer Science Unplugged – https://code.org/curriculum/unplugged
Early exposure to these activities lays the foundation for further tech skill learning while promoting development in other learning domains. Computer science exploration supports:
- Collaboration and cooperation
- Executive functions and self-regulation skills
- Sequencing and other mathematical concepts
- Problem-solving and creative thinking
- Language and communication skills
- Fine motor skills
- Self-confidence and other emotional skills
There are also benefits for educators using an unplugged approach. This approach can lessen the anxiety associated with having to learn digital programs and technologies. It can be implemented in environments where computers are not available or limited, and aligns with screen time guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Introducing young children to computer science and the world of technology is easier and more exciting than we think. Gather your resources, plan your activities, and have fun preparing your students for their technological future.
For the main article Tech Skills for Children, CLICK HERE
For the article The Benefits of Computational Thinking Skills for Younger Children, CLICK HERE
For the article Can Preschoolers Learn Coding?, CLICK HERE
For the article Building Computer Science Confidence for Teachers, CLICK HERE