Welcome to my life. It's a whirlwind of kids, chaos, pets, people, family, art, and being home (most of the time; I like to get out here and there). We unschool, so the unexpected is, well, expected...

Friday, January 16, 2015

the big bad screen time

In response to a parent who was having a bit of anxiety over their children using their new tablets after Christmas because tablets are screens and represent screen time....

Both of my kids learned to read by using the computer, the internet, playing video games, listening to audio books, and watching TV. They each asked for help to spell things for searches, or chatting, until they could do it themselves. Each of my kids gained vocabulary by talking and hearing and watching stories. Each of my kids learned to recognize words and meanings by needing to know them in order to navigate games. All of those activities are likely to have screens, but it isn't screen time. It's time spent engaging in meaningful activities in which they are learning and having fun.

Do your kids enjoy what they are doing? What else do they enjoy? What kinds of activities were they doing before they got cool new presents? Are they still able to choose among the many options that are being provided? Those are the sorts of things that you should be asking yourself. Kids who enjoy what they are doing, are going to be learning. There is absolutely no way to stop that from happening. Sometimes that learning is invisible to us, as parents. That's okay. It really is.

The point of childhood is to learn how to be an adult. Kids get to learn how to interact with others, learn how to communicate, learn how to acquire specific skills for specific tasks. It matters little what those specific skills are. What matters is that they have the specific skills to match the specific tasks that they want to do. All of those things can be learned by watching TV, watching Youtube, playing games, listening to stories, and whatever else a kid might do with a tablet. All of those things can easily transfer to the actual physical doing of whatever they want to do. It will only happen when there is a need or reason to do so and that time will come, a week from now, or a month from now, or a year from now. It's not a process that can be rushed or quantified or qualified. Schools do that, they rush the process and quantify and qualify and the learning gets stunted and stopped to meet some other bit of "must know" criteria.

When kids are happily engaged, they are learning deeply, about themselves, the world, and what it means to be a person and how they fit into it all. There is no way to rush that process. Even kids in school need to do that, it's simply that the process gets messy in school, it's not seamless and soft. In school there are growing pains because each person is pushed and pulled and stopped and started on someone else's time schedule. It's an extra layer to weed through to find their way as a person.

Marvel in the idea that your children can learn in a way that is seamless and soft and when they come to bumpy bits, they'll be able to move past it in creative and interesting ways.

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