Robots in preschool

When you hear the word, “technology” the first thing that pops into your head is probably a smart phone, tablet, or laptop, right? But, what about robots?

{Yes, I said robots.}

More and more early childhood learning centers are incorporating various robots into the classroom. This is a fairly new thing, but the available research on child learning has been very positive. From Bee-bots (that look like bees!) to DragonBots (small, soft, stretchy robots) to humanoid robots, benefits for language-learning, social skills, and attention have been found (see article for review).

The authors of this study examined the integration of humanoid robots into the curriculum to support 3-, 4-, and 5-year old children’s learning and development. Results suggested that despite the early childhood teachers’ and teaching assistants’ lack of experience in integrating this type of technology, they were enthusiastic about using the humanoid robot as part of the preschool curriculum. And, all of the students benefitted: presence of the robot resulted in increased talk, use of questions, eye contact, and other social skills such as turn taking and cooperation.

This is a small study, but paired with other, related research, the findings are encouraging; particularly, in considering the influence that a robot in the classroom or therapy session could have on a young child’s motivation and engagement. As we continue to incorporate more technology into our therapy sessions, use of a robot like the one included in this study may be another way to motivate young children who are reticent or may benefit from alternate learning modalities.

 

Crompton, H., Gregory, K., & Burke, D. (2018). Humanoid robots supporting children’s learning in an early childhood setting. British Journal of Educational Technology, 49(5), 911–927.