Story and photos by Julie Beaulieu
EASTHAMPTON – It’s not mom and dad’s home computer, but something designed for the hands and minds of little tikes.
Two computers were awarded via grant money to the Our Lady’s Child Care Center. The market value for each is $2,599.
The two IBM computers, donated via the company’s KidSmart Early Learning Program, arrived at the Our Lady’s Child Care Center in Easthampton during mid-August.
Perri Taylor, director of the child care center since its opening six years ago, said, “These Young Explorer computers are housed in brightly colored, kid friendly, Little Tikes furniture and equipped with award-winning educational software to help children learn and explore concepts in math, science and language.
“The computer centers can also help children learn important socialization skills, such as, working together and sharing,” Taylor noted. “Exploration and socialization skills are important to prepare children for future success in school.”
Nicole Beebe, preschool lead teacher, has one of the computers in her classroom. She said that these computers are very safe and user-friendly for the young children.
“The screen, it’s covered by plastic, so they can’t touch the screen. They can’t knock it over,” said Beebe. “The modem is locked up, so only the teacher can turn it on and only the teacher can turn it off. Only the teacher can turn up the volume,” she continued.
“The keyboard is all color-coded, so, if they are having trouble with their letters, we can always say, ‘Look for the letter that has green on it,’” Beebe explained. “Also, with the mouse, it can be hard because they may not know left from right, so the left side is green and the right side is purple. That really helps.”
Beebe added that the kids really enjoy the learning games, which promote skills like sorting, identifying, distinguishing size and shape, and learning letters and numbers.
“A big mouth and a big nose, oh, it’s already a big nose. And now, big eyes,” said Elias, while creating a face on the computer.
Next, Luke and Jacob played a shapes game together. When Luke was asked why he liked this game, he answered, “Because it’s all covered in shapes.”
Jacob then pointed to a shape and said, “Square.” Beebe then instructed, “Over here, on this side, where’s the diamond?”
Luke pointed and replied, “Right there.” Beebe responded, “Click on one and add it.”
“There’s a bunch of different games that are already on the computer,” said Beebe. “And we really just use those games. So, if we’re working with counting or rhyming for the theme of that week, then we can click on the games that work with counting or rhyming.
“They work with addition, letter recognition, letter sound recognition, so it really helps with children who have two different skill levels. (For example) if one child is just learning letters, we can just click on games for that,” she said.
A video version of this story will be featured on the Sept. 7 edition of the Springfield Diocese’s weekly newsmagazine, “Real to Reel,” which airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS.