Nowadays, children learn to use an iPhone before they can even dress themselves.
Even though there may not be enough to go around, public schools are increasingly utilizing laptops, iPads and various other electronic devices to supplement learning.
"Technology opens so many doors for the kids," said Darlene Tums, first grade teacher at Destin Elementary. "This is the age they were born in. We can't teach them the same way we used to learn anymore."
Tums, a teacher for 31 years and a Destin Elementary teacher for 26, said technology opens so many doors for children. Inside her classroom, every student is diligently tapping away on laptops while her computer screen is projected on the whiteboard. Parent volunteers circle the classroom to help Tums answer student questions.
Using the Scootpad, an online program that teaches the Common Core standards and concepts in math and reading with personalized, self-paced quizzes, the link between instructor and student becomes closer. Teachers can review a student's progress easily since each student creates their own login and scores are sent straight to the teacher's computer. They also have the ability to create tests that cater to where a child is in the learning process.
"There are some kids that are reading at a third grade level and some are at the end of a first grade reading level," explained Tums. "I always tell parents that all students are gifted, some just open their presents sooner than others."
The only catch is providing enough computers to classrooms. These laptops are not readily available. Instead, the C.O.W., otherwise known as Computers On Wheels, is checked-out and brought in on a cart to the classroom. And with 866 students in 46 classrooms, teachers have to fight to get the C.O.W.
"In a perfect world, they would be here all the time," Tums said.
The computers are crucial in bridging the gap between teachers and English Language Learner (ELL) students. Tums has Hispanic and Vietnamese children in her class who are learning English as a second language.
Kids don't view the computer practice as work because the more correct answers they get, the more games they can play in between questions.
"They think they just got to play games, but I tricked them," said first grade teacher, Sarah Thomin, with a laugh.
"You get to play a lot of games," said first-grader David Bowman. "I played golf, a parking the car game and disc battle."
Tums and Thomin work closely together to make sure Scootpad works effectively for their students. For the reading portion, students begin the program by taking a reading assessment test. They read books in their designated level and then, using Scootpad, take a test on the book.
"Sarah and I both really track what books they're reading and monitor the program," Tums said.
The county-wide program motivates students to self-track where their progress is since they can see the levels they have to accomplish. Like with any video game, the more levels a student achieves, the harder it gets.
"I'm learning more to be a facilitator," Tums said. "The students have self-motivation. They're questioning more and learning how to solve problems."
Using the computers also gives the students a chance to practice typing skills — a lesson that in the past was held off until high school.
"I wrote a story about what would happen if I fell down in the meadow into a rabbit's hole," said first grader Serafina McCabe.
"Some of the students got to type for the first time, as they typed stories they wrote," explained Thomin. "It took some of them a long time, but it was good practice."