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Using tablets and apps to enhance emergent literacy skills in young children

Touch screen tablets (e.g., iPads) are being increasingly used by young children due to their stimulating multimodal features and intuitive touch-based interface. However, little is known about the effects of tablets and apps on the development of emergent literacy skills. This pre-post-test randomised controlled study explored the effects of using literacy apps on emergent literacy skills in English speaking children aged 2-5 years (N = 48). There were 24 children in the iPad group and 24 children in the waitlist control group. The 9-week (30 min/week) iPad literacy program focussed on three new alphabet letters each week using three apps (letter matching, letter tracing, and drawing). Following the program, children in the iPad group showed significantly higher letter name and sound knowledge, print concepts and name writing skills than children in the control group. No significant group differences were found for letter writing skills or numeral knowledge. The findings showed that tablets can positively support letter name and sound learning and aspects of emergent writing development. How teachers can best utilise these digital tools in early childhood classrooms to support emergent literacy requires further investigation. (author abstract)
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Reports & Papers

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