The Role of Relationships in Children’s Use of Technology

Technology and digital media are an integral part of many adults’ lives, and the same is true for many children today. Not long ago, the conversation about digital media and early childhood learning focused on whether or not these new technologies should be part of early childhood education, at home or at school. But in recent years, the conversation has...

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The Simple Interactions That Make Learning Possible (Part Three)

Part Three: Technology that enriches, rather than replaces, human interactions Sometimes an innovative learning idea will go beyond a one-time exposure or a one-afternoon experience. It can become embedded within the extended and intimate relationships children have already formed with the adults near them. The “Baby Promise” project, funded through a Spark award from The Sprout Fund, was delivered through a...

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The Simple Interactions That Make Learning Possible (Part Two)

What makes us try new things, especially when new things do not come easily? What makes us stick with challenges when we can see that others appear better and faster? Persistence, or grit, or stick-to-it-ness develops in us through enriching interactions with those near us, especially when we are trying, failing, and struggling. Fred Rogers often talked about the importance of...

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The Simple Interactions That Make Learning Possible

For many years, on the desk of Pittsburgh’s favorite neighbor, Fred Rogers, visitors would spot a framed piece of calligraphy of the famous theme from the children’s novel “The Little Prince” that read, “What is essential is invisible to the eye.” Fred Rogers, with his gentle persistence and deliberate approach, tried to find and articulate for children and families what...

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What Nourishes the Imagination?

“Imagining something may be the first step in making it happen,” Fred wrote, “but it takes the real time and real efforts of real people to learn things, make things, turn thoughts into deeds or visions into inventions.” At the start of the school year, we shared this whimsical illustration by the artist (and orthodontist!) Grant Snider on “how to grow...

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You Are (Not) Special

It is the season of commencement speeches again.  From high school auditoriums to college athletic fields, graduates are exhorted to “be all that you can be,” “let what you love be what you do,” “be somebody,” “serve somebody,” and, of course, “change the world.” Last weekend, as I watched my own students march in their caps and gowns, I couldn’t help...

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The Toothpaste Theory of Child Development

Have you ever studied the label on a tube of toothpaste? A good number of years ago, out of sheer boredom, I picked up the tube while supervising my daughters as they brushed their teeth for the proverbial and interminable “two minutes.” The label reads: “Active ingredient: sodium fluoride.” Its function: cavity prevention. And just below that was a list of...

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Can An App Help Teach Empathy and Mindfulness?

Anna Ly, one of the Fred Rogers Center’s Early Career Fellows, was working on her graduate degree at Stanford when a presentation from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center gave her a eureka moment. The center presented a prototype of a videoconferencing app they created with the Nokia Research Center called Story Visit, which lets far away parents or grandparents read “Sesame...

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