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New Media Journalism Toddlers and Tablets

How iStartSmart Tablets Help Child Development

iStartSmart Tablets 

According to Hatch: The Early Learning Experts, the “iStartSmart Mobile is the learning tablets that fascinates and engages” children as they learn throughout the day based on research proven applications and software that monitor the progress as they go. If a student is struggling with a concept, the program allows for the teacher to go in and “refocus” by using the Progress Monitoring Reports incorporated into the system for more efficient learning.

Research shows that the iStartSmart program was created to help aid the key components that “promote positive experiences and school readiness.” Among these components are:

  1. Child Development
  2. Effective Early Childhood Education Practices

  3. Critical Content for School Readiness
  4. Developmentally Appropriate Educational Technology


One of the most innovative things about the iStartSmart Learning System (app suite and the tablet) “is that teachers can monitor the progress of each student in real time!” The progress monitoring of the iStartSmart System allows for teachers to take “snapshots of a child’s progress throughout the year”, exclaimed Brent. Instead of teachers having to remember which child did what at the end of the day the “unbiased data” from the program is right there to show when needed.

Hatch: Early Learning Experts concluded that, “for technology to be meaningful in early education, it must provide opportunities for children to gain the essential skills that prepare them for school.”

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New Media Journalism

Profile: Rachel Brent of Hatch Early Childhood

Social Media Specialist, Hatch Early Childhood
Rachel Brent-Social Media Specialist, Hatch Early Childhood

“I’ve always had a knack for talking to everyone so being in charge of social media and community management for a company just made sense.”- Rachel Brent

Born to an Elementary School Speech Pathologist, Rachel Brent has always taken interest to the education field. Spending the vast majority of her life around teachers, one would say it is in her blood to be in this field.

When asked what made her want to get into the social media field she stated, “I’ve always had a knack for talking to everyone so being in charge of social media and community management for a company just made sense.”

Rachel has her undergraduate degree in Advertising from the University of Georgia and her master’s in Interactive Media from Elon University. Upon finishing her degrees she found her job at Hatch when it showed up as a suggested job on LinkedIn. This was the first  interview she ever had where she knew all of her hard work in school had paid off. She would be getting a job that she was not only qualified for but that she actually desired to do. This is one of the best feelings in the world when the American Dream, your dream is actually going to come true.

As the Social Media Specialist for Hatch, Rachel wears a lot of hats! She manages the social media, interacts with the online community, creates editorial calendars, writes engaging content, as well as builds relationships with industry leaders. On top of everything else Rachel is tasked with, she also runs the Expert Series webinars, ghost write blog posts, educate the rest of the company on social best practices, write e-books and do a little bit of coding, copywriting, and graphic design on the side. She is a woman of many talents that deserves to be highlighted. It was very interesting to find out this information about all that she does and still is able to find a little time for herself at the end of the day.

Coworker Johnathan Russell (Online Marketer + Developer + Designer) praised the work of Rachel in a recommendation on her LinkedIn page by stating that, “Rachel brings the highest level of creativity and energy to every project she is involved in. She is an asset to the team and pure joy to work with. Her out-of-the-box thinking is taking Hatch Online Marketing to a new level. She possesses a wide range of talents and skills sets that are rare coming right out of college. She has a bright future ahead of her.”

Rachel truly does have a very bright future ahead of her, very efficient, knowledgeable and is always willing to lend a helping hand. It is no surprise that Hatch Early Childhood snatched her up back in May to work for their company!

Hatch is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and targets the younger aged children but is also of a lot of help in its focus on teacher frustration points.  During the interview, Rachel mentioned that these universal points were things like: shrinking budgets, more paperwork, teaching to tests (less curriculum flexibility), more trouble with parents, and increased work for less pay. By having an understanding of all of those on top of what a child needs to grow and develop you have the company by the name of Hatch Early Learning!

Rachel also gave a lot of insight on whether or not technology would one day replace the need for basic skills like going outside to play. Hatch has just launched a product line called Hatch Outdoor, which ironically has nothing to do with technology. This product re-enforces the point of view that learning takes on a deeper meaning when it goes outdoors. Hatch is a strong advocate of technology being used in a structured manner where it is a part of the learning style not the entire way of teaching.

“Technology will NEVER replace the value of face-to-face interaction and the power of play, it can only help it.”- Rachel Brent

This quote was a very powerful statement that all should remember. Technology is introduced as a helpmate to the other learning styles not as a replacement. Rachel feels that when technology is used as part of a curriculum, not as a baby sitter, technology can only enhance the excellent, traditional methods of teaching that educators have been using for years.

Two fun facts about Rachel Brent and Hatch Early Learning

  • One of Rachel’s favorite topics to discuss is Social Emotional Learning, which coincidentally was the topic of her first e-book.
  • Her favorite gadget(s) that the company has developed are the iStartSmart Table and the tablet bumper.

Many happy users have left testimonials on the Hatch Webpage confirming this viewpoint. Jennifer CihakKindergarten Educator stated,  “iStartSmart computers are the best investment you can make! Computers are finally easy to use & with iStartSmart I can easily monitor each child’s overall progress.” This is just one example of a teacher incorporating the technology into her daily lesson plans and monitoring the progress of her students.

Rachel closed the interview by leaving 5 pieces of advice for people who are aspiring to one day be in her position:

  1. Be flexible but be firm about boundaries. I work hard while I’m at work, but when I leave, I put my phone away and don’t check my email. I’m lucky in that aspect, and I’m lucky that my manager respects that. Most community managers have a 25/7/365 job.
  2. Always be willing to listen and learn, you’ll find tips in very unexpected places.
  3. Be patient. This type of job is new, a lot of people don’t understand what a community manager does and thinks it’s just about playing on Facebook all day. It’s some of that, but what makes me different than their child, or nephew, or any other young person that you can pull off the street is that I have the communication theory from my education that informs my decisions on social. Before I started my job Hatch had three interns running their social who were in the business school at Wake Forest. They did a great job getting everything set up, building our audience, and maintaining a consistent presence on social media, but I would argue that the conversation was one sided on our part.
  4. Be as kind as possible and LISTEN. Even if someone frustrates the heck out of you, read their email with a smile, try to find the constructive criticism in the rant, and let it go. I struggle with this the most. Listen first and give every idea consideration, usually people are just trying to help even if it’s the worst idea you’ve ever heard. There still might be a good nugget in that terrible idea. If you have a great attitude and do your best, your team will be much more forgiving on that day when you do make a mistake (and that day will come!) It doesn’t matter if you’re brilliant at your job if no one likes you.
  5. Last bit of advice—if you don’t like coffee, you better learn to love it!

You may contact Rachel via email at rbrent@hatchearlychildhood.com for any further questions or information on the research done by Hatch and she will get it to the right place to answer you if she can’t answer it herself.

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