Wii for the wee ones

BY MICHELLE SUTTON
Last updated 09:24 06/06/2010
wii
Photo: John Cosgrove
Thomas Kennedy, left, and Jordan Hannon at Dunedin's Mornington Kindergarten.

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WIIIII ... three- and four-year-olds at early childhood centres are being encouraged to play games on the arm-waving Nintendo Wii gaming consoles, post comments at online blogs and Skype other children.

The e-lessons are being run to bolster learning and prepare the next generation to use technology in their everyday lives.

But critics fear the use of computer gadgetry is simply electronic babysitting, and NetSafe is warning parents and teachers to monitor children using online media.

Pre-schoolers at Dunedin's Mornington Kindergarten are playing Wii Nintendo, and others at Fiordland and Northland kindergartens are blogging and using the online video-phone programme Skype to communicate with preschoolers around the world.

Mornington Kindergarten head teacher Molly Paul said Wii was introduced at the start of the year as a fun introduction to numeracy, literacy and fine motor skills, while also providing social interaction.

Some parents were concerned their children could be on Wii too much, but Paul said the use of the game was monitored by staff.

"It's really great to watch them teaching each other."

Consultants Core Education have been researching early childhood education e-lessons and helping early childhood centres use technology.

National facilitator team leader Ann Hatherly said children were already using computers, educational video games and the internet at home. "This isn't something new to them – this is normal."

Teachers involved had to attend a cyber-safety workshop.

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