The Fred Rogers Center Early Learning Environment (Ele) is an innovative online space where early educators, families, and others who care for young children can come together in a safe environment to find and share digital resources that support early learning and development in children from birth to age 5. By focusing on Early Literacy and Digital Media Literacy, the information, media-based activities, and social networking opportunities within Ele are intended to advance learning, healthy child development, and school success.
When it comes to finding high quality media for children to use or to provide guidance and support for the adults in their lives, there seem to be an overwhelming number of options. Ele brings together many of the best free trusted materials from around the web, including videos, games, ebooks, music and other interactive tools. Ele also provides a platform to connect and discuss with others who care about issues affecting young children.
The Rogers Center believes that Talking is Teaching, and the research on the importance of early language development is clear. Early literacy starts well before children can read – talking to and with children from the time they are born helps them feel loved and valued and gets them started on the path to learning language.
The ubiquity of technology and digital media in the lives of adults and even the youngest children, across all socioeconomic groups, also makes digital media literacy more important than ever—being able to select, use, participate in, and reflect on media use in an informed way. Ele encourages caregivers to treat media more like they would treat a book: as a chance to sit with a child, share time together, and talk about what children are seeing and hearing. In this way, media and technology can be motivating, interesting, and helpful tools. Used properly, they can spur conversation and encourage children’s interaction with their peers and with the caring adults in their lives. Ele suggests ways to develop such healthy media habits.
Ele is a signature program of the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College. The mission of the Center is to advance the fields of early learning and children’s media by acting as a catalyst for communication, collaboration, and creative change. All of the Center’s work resonates with Fred Rogers’ own belief in the positive potential of media to support the healthy social, emotional, intellectual and physical development of young children.