The Ethical Use of AI in Early Childhood Education
Skip to content
Bilingual Teaching Practices The Ethical Use of AI in Early Childhood Education: A Must-Read for Educators

The Ethical Use of AI in Early Childhood Education: A Must-Read for Educators

Is using Artificial Intelligence as part of my work “cheating”?

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) becomes more present in our daily lives and education, it’s essential to consider the ethical issues that arise, especially when it comes to children. Ensuring AI is used responsibly and ethically in and out of the classroom is crucial for maintaining a child-centered educational approach. Management, families, and teachers all need to be part of this conversation as the adoption of this technology accelerates.

This post will discuss best practices for the ethical use of AI in early childhood education.

Data Privacy and Security

Protecting student data is paramount when incorporating AI into education. Schools and teachers must choose AI tools that comply with data protection regulations. Additionally, vigilance is key because many tools request access to drives or photos, and we may unwittingly compromise information.

Consider the classic example of free photo editing programs for children’s pictures. When you agreed to the terms of service, you might have unknowingly given up the rights to use those images. How could these photos be used? Could they be used to train an AI to generate images? Imagine someone searching for “create a photo of a child surfing on a shark” and suddenly, your student’s face appears! In the event of a data breach, schools should have a clear plan to communicate and mitigate any risks.


The entire school community needs to know and understand how Artificial Intelligence is being used.

Imagine being told at the end of the year: “We recorded some classes and analyzed them with AI, and it said you’re not a good teacher.” Just like you wouldn’t want your performance evaluated without your consent, families and children have the right to know how AI is being used in their school.

Therefore, when implementing a new tool involving data or analysis of children or families, it’s essential to obtain informed consent and explain the tool’s benefits and risks. Transparency about AI’s role in education is vital. Communication must be honest and open.

AI in early childhood

The Teacher’s Role

You are irreplaceable, and always will be! Just as mimeographs were replaced with printers, AI resources can optimize our work. However, your attentive gaze, nurturing spirit, and ability to identify each child’s needs will never be automated.

Many tasks can be simplified or improved with AI. Being able to utilize these resources fully allows you to be more present for what truly matters: the children. Furthermore, you can ask it to review texts, break down tasks into simpler steps, or adapt proposals to different learning stages. But remember, you remain the author of everything you offer the children and their families! AI cannot replace your judgment and decision-making skills.

Digital Literacy

A new demand for teachers working with young children is guiding them in navigating these technologies. The image of the owl you see here was created by AI and is part of a site that calls it a “rainbow owl.” As you might guess, this animal doesn’t exist. But how can you tell?

In a world overflowing with information, it’s crucial for everyone—starting with you—to be able to select truthful information and think critically about what they encounter. An ethical approach to AI involves not only your ability to navigate these technologies but also your preparedness to raise this discussion in a way that’s appropriate for the children’s developmental stage.

Best Practices for Ethical Use of AI:
  • Check for bias and accuracy: AI can sometimes produce biased or incorrect content. You are still responsible for the quality of knowledge in the classroom.
  • Always verify AI-generated materials before sharing them with students: Nothing enters the classroom without passing through your filter!
  • Use AI as a resource: View AI as a tool to enhance, not replace, your role. Ensure that human interaction and your experience remain central to the teaching and mediation process.
  • AI is a draft: Any writing or idea generated by AI needs your touch, knowledge, and experience.
  • Identify potential bias in student data: Be mindful of how AI might perpetuate bias based on student data used for personalized learning. For example, an AI might recommend more challenging tasks for boys than girls based on historical data.

If you’ve read this far, know that Early Beginnings advocates for the use of child-centered AI in the classroom. Want to know more about this? Join the course “Empowering Teachers: Integrating AI in a Child-First Culture.” The course is recorded in English and subtitled in Spanish & Portuguese, with international certification.

Remember, AI is a powerful tool, but it should always be used ethically and with the child’s best interests at heart.