When it comes to distance learning, schools may be facing the biggest challenge with their youngest students, according to the owner of a Chandler business that specializes in teaching young kids computer basics.
And when Ken Chan talks basics, you can’t get any more basic than some of the challenges he faces.
“The hardest task for children to learn is how to place their fingers in the correct positions on the keyboard,” said Chan. “Some pick this up fairly quickly while others take more time.”
Chan and his sister Linda Chan co-own a technology curriculum provider called Future Kiddie, which introduces kids 3 to 7 computer navigation, keyboarding and the principles of science, technology, engineering and math in a fun atmosphere at preschools throughout the Valley.
Asked about the challenges that schools confront in developing distance learning for youngsters while physical classrooms are closed, Chan said,
“My experience with first graders is that they need to learn online instructions and not just watch videos – which is what they like to do). Learning how to Google-search is critical. Kids can watch videos all day long on their own, but not every kid knows how to Google research online.
“Don’t assume they do; they don’t,” he said. “That’s our experience. For example, people would assume kids know how to use MS paint or even MS Word, simple tasks, but first graders or even second graders have no clue how to even start the programs.
“It takes time to instruct them and get them used to it.”
For that reason, parents can’t sit back and let teachers and the school district do all the work.
“It is necessary to have parents involved at first,” Chan said. “The critical part is to teach kids how to use Google searches in a safe environment. For that, we recommend downloading and using a new browser called ‘Brave.’ It is a Google Chrome alternative and a safe browser to surf for information.”
Chan said the browser has built-in ad-blockers and is faster than Google Chrome.
He also recommends that parents set up the search engine as “duckduckgo.com.”
“This search engine is for privacy searching online and protects kids from getting into inappropriate sites like adult sites,” Chan said.
Future Kiddie’s students range between 3 to 7 years old.
Chan, who personally works with students in those schools that hire Future Kiddie, also stressed that parents need to recognize that “every child is different” when it comes to learning a computer and that it takes time for them to master the basics.
“Students learn through the repetition of basic tasks and how engaged they are in the subject,” he said. “Some kids are able to master basic computer skills in a few months while others need more instruction and attention.”
Future Kiddie’s classes begin with 10 to 15 minutes “circle time” to discuss the day’s lesson followed by 25-30 minutes of hands-on screen time/computer learning time.
“Our curriculum is in alignment with early childhood education materials along with S.T.E.M (science, technology, engineering and math) principles and the teaching of keyboarding skills,” he explained.
“With proper training, almost anyone can learn to teach. In fact, some of our teachers are parents who enrolled their child into our program in the past who later became part of our team.
“Our classes are story-based to engage children and each week we teach a different topic/subject matter.”
Future Kiddie isn’t providing in-home instruction because of concerns about virus spread.
“We are in the process of exploring virtual learning options with programmers and web developers,” Chan said, suggesting parents who think their children might need some help mastering a computer can check futurekiddie.com or contact him at 480-331-3068 or FutureKiddie@FutureKiddie.com.