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DSC02106 3 70 resized 50A conference on early childhood development of digital and media literacy took place on 30th of May in Sofia. The conference was organized by the Applied Research and Communications Fund (ARC Fund), coordinator of Bulgarian Safer Internet Centre.

The meeting was attended by representatives of a variety of institutions and organisations: non-governmental organisations, UNICEF, lecturers and students from Faculty of Primary and Pre-school Pedagogy of Sofia University, school and kindergarten teachers and principals, representatives of the Electronic communications networks and information systems state executive agency, State Agency for Child Protection, Ministry of Culture.

A new methodology for development of digital literacy in primary school and kindergarten developed by ARC Fund and the Faculty of Primary and Pre-school Pedagogy was presented at the conference. The methodology was developed within the framework of a project supported by Student innovations program of MicrofĐžnd Sofia Foundation and Open Society Institute – Sofia.

An analytical report entitled "Are Digital Natives Digitally Literate?" was presented publicly for the first time. The report is based on the findings from national representative survey "Bulgarian children online", conducted by the ARC Foundation and the Market Link Sociological Agency based on a Global Kids Online methodological framework. The findings from the study confirm that children's technical skills are not necessarily related to their digital media skills such as the ability to select and verify information, critical thinking, and ability to collaborate.

A Guide for teachers in Primary schools and kindergarten was also presented. The guide contains lesson plans developed by practicing teachers, which are suitable for development of young children’s digital media skills in classes on various subjects and which meet Bulgarian state educational requirements. The lesson plans include also components of the Montessori supporting environment creation.

Evgeniya Gramatikova, principal of "The Castle" private language kindergarten, presented her experience with piloting the methodology developed under the project and how it works in practice. She recounted examples of her practical work with pre-school children on the topics included in the Teachers’ guide, including interactive exercises, group work and active participation of children.

In a lively discussion the participants came to a shared understanding that the basic skills related to both digital and traditional media need to be developed from an early childhood. In the course of the discussion it was pointed out that it is necessary that the development of children’s digital and media literacy be integrated into the curricula of all subjects.

The full text of the report "Are Digital Natives Digitally Literate?" can be found here.

The Teachers’ Guide can be found here (in Bulgarian).