Distance learning is hard on everyone, but especially for our youngest learners and their caregivers. That is why True North Parent Coaching and the PA of the Contra Costa Jewish Day School created a workshop: Tips and Tools: Strategies for Successful Distance Learning for Young Learners K-3. We gathered a group of parents to find out about their most pressing issues around distance learning and to share strategies to increase focus, promote independence, manage screen time and much more. We compiled the results in this Resource Guide. Please use it and share it. If you are interested in bringing the workshop to your school or organization please contact Truenorthparentcoaching@gmail.com
To watch the workshop for free click HERE
Recently my friend sent me this great article, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Screen, by Linda Wilbrecht, PhD. It helps frame some of the positive ways that screen time can support teens during the Pandemic. When I received the article I had already been reflecting on how much screen time my two teenage sons have had since the lockdown in March. Since the boys were young, we have always limited their screen time out of the fear of the negative side effects like screen addiction, social isolation, increased anxiety and depression and lack of in person communication skills.
This past summer, without their regular summer activities, the boys were on the screens a whole lot more, and I know it was the same for most kids. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t all bad and that even in my own home there are some really positive ways screen time is helping my kids through this crisis. So much of what my kids were choosing to do was actually helping foster many of the things that I had feared in the first place! Instead of becoming addicted, they are actually finding their own screen balance, increasing social connection, sharpening their communication skills and learning new things.
One of their friends developed a server for Minecraft, the “world building game”. Together, they go on adventures and build new worlds including a “Capture the Flag” arena where they actually play “Capture the Flag”. This past weekend, six kids got together to fight the Enderdragon and “win” the game. While they play, they talk and chat through Discord, a communication platform. But the great thing is that they organized this all themselves! From the other room, I hear them working together, being creative, working out conflict and collaborating in ways that they just can’t do right now in person. Both of my kids are exploring their interests and developing new skills using their screens. One is learning to draw his favorite anime characters while the other is teaching himself to repair and maintain his bicycle.They are also spending time diving mindlessly into the black hole of YouTube videos and there seems to be a place for that too.
We have had conversations about different types of screen time because as Linda Wilbrecht writes in the article, "it may not be the amount of screen time that is important, but what we are doing with our screens." She makes a good point and with this in mind it became my goal to help them to distinguish between active, productive screen time where they are building skills and passive screen time which is purely for entertainment. Encouraging them to balance active and passive screen activities made the difference between feeling good about their increased screen use and my worry that they are online too much.
My boys still don’t have free reign of their screen time. We talk about it daily, how much, what kind and how it makes them feel. All screens are off by 9:30pm. We make time to connect as a family each evening. We make sure that they are getting enough exercise and sleep. So while I still can’t say that I love the screen, it isn’t scaring me as much as it used to. I am more at peace because I see its value for my sons during this time that they are cut off from their friends. I appreciate their giving me a new perspective on an “old foe” in these challenging times.
In her article “Four Things to Do Every Day for Your Mental Health”, Elizabeth Markle says that, “in the absence of everything that normally dictates our days, we are called on to create the structures that will support our health, physically and emotionally, in a time of profound uncertainty.” Markle advocates that we all create our own structure using these four concepts:
Move: Build movement in your structure, at least 20 minutes per day!
Nourish: setting up a daily structure that (mostly) fills you with nourishing, healthy foods
Connect: Humans need to connect to other humans. Since right now it won’t naturally happen throughout the day, you have to ask for it and schedule it.
Be: Pause long enough from the chaos of our new realities “to let your nervous system come back to baseline after prolonged activation.” Find what works for you, be it meditation, doing a puzzle or simply watching TV. Whatever helps you just BE.
As parents we can take care of ourselves by incorporating some of this into our daily routines, as we model for and support our kids, of any age, to do the same.
Read the full article:
I came across a great article in the NY Times by Anya Kamenetz, education reporter for NPR and author of “The Art of Screen Time”. As a full time working parent who lectures about screen time all over the country, she uses this article to reframe the issue of screen time during the time of COVID. The screen rules that were in place before shelter in place no longer have the same meaning or value for most families. Life for her and for most parents has dramatically changed as kids regular summer and school routines were interrupted last Spring. And with no end in sight she offers up some new screen time guidelines:
Find the full article here.
Jenny Michaelson is a PCI,
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