Arkansas Head Start

Welcome to the Website for the Arkansas Head Start Association and Arkansas Head Start State Collaboration Office

New Computers Made Just for Kids

By Lori Kameling
Child Development, Inc.
Russellville, Arkansas
The brightly colored furniture and promise of interactive fun draws the children to inspect the new item in the classroom.
“It’s one of our biggest attractions center-wise,” said April Wilkinson, director/family enrichment service worker at Crawford Child Development Center.
While CDI has always supplied each classroom with a children’s computer and age-appropriate software, the newer computers and Little Tikes furniture is a welcome addition to both Crawford and Lonoke Child Development Centers. In early April, CDI learned that it has been chosen to receive six Young Explorer Children’s Computers through an association with Head Start advocacy group the National Head Start Association, computer giant IBM and Pacer Centers for children with disabilities.
Each unit, which includes a computer, speakers, flat scree n, flat keyboard, software, colorful mouse, desk and bench, is valued at $2,129. Agency Technology Specialist Lorie Mortenson attended six hours of training on the computers in late April and the computers arrived in early September. By mid-October, the computers were in place at the centers, children were ready to play and learn and Mortenson had trained the teachers on the software.
Originally the computers were to be reserved for centers that catered to children with disabilities, according to an announcement from NHSA, but later the program was opened to all Head Start agencies who wished to apply. Mortenson explained that the computers may be adapted for children with disabilities, such as adding voice recognition software and equipment for children who can’t use their arms or hands, or adding large buttons for use instead of a mouse for children who need it.
“Pacer is a program for children with disabilities,” she further explained. “Its main mission is to use technology to help those children.”
In exchange for the computers, CDI will be part of a 1-year study, which will include monthly training for the administrators and meetings with parents and teachers to evaluate the computer’s effectiveness in the classroom.
But with Wilkinson’s reaction and enthusiasm, it is no surprise that the children are excited about the equipment.
“We allow two children at a time at the computers,” she said. “But the way it is set up, the child who doesn’t have control of the mouse is still playing the game. It’s great.”
Wilkinson added that the teachers also get to have fun with the new equipment. “One day during nap time, the teachers got on the computers and played the games and they had a great time. It’s a very good educational tool.”
The reaction at Lonoke was just as enthusiastic. Mortenson said that after seeing the bright new computers, the children’s eyes widened and they all rushed to see them.
“They were so excited,” added Debbie Davis, CDI’s office manager/assistant, who helped deliver and set up the computers.

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