For the Times, they are a changin'
Technology is here to stay so we need to do our best to embrace it in a positive way both at school and at home. I'd be quite interested to know your opinion Therese on how to apply this at home.
I would like to address two important issues in parenting children in this digital age:
Preparing children for the institution that is school, school being part of our village AND helping children to navigate the minefield of devices and the internet…
A common sense approach is what is called for and for the children's sake, finding a sense that is common between school and home is vital.
My youngest son arrived on this earth 14 years ago with a Dad who works “in IT” and two siblings who were nearly teenagers. What I remember is that there were devices available and screens were commonplace. Our wee boy was brought up on a generous diet of devices.
When I sent my “modern” boy to school with his schoolbag, his lunch and HIS “normal”, I found out that HIS normal clashed deeply with THE SCHOOL norm. I asked myself if there was something wrong with my boy, my parenting or both? He wanted more freedom and more choice, devices gave him that. In this respect, he was ill-prepared for school. Or his teachers were ill-prepared for him. At 6 years old, he didn’t want to “record skip counting in twos” at school, was it necessary when he could already figure out that 1000 divided by 400 was 2.5 (that was what his Minecraft diamond sword was worth).
While it is natural for children to embrace the new, adults often look for what is wrong with it.
Bob Dylan's words are timeless.
"Come mothers and fathers, Throughout the land
And don’t criticise, What you can’t understand
Please heed the call. Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall. For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled”
Because school is part of our village, when you have a liberal or "modern” attitude to parenting, it may clash with mainstream schooling and can make for a miserable school child. During this in-between time, is your child ready to wait for the adults to catch up?
I see more and more students who show more challenging behaviour and I could spend days, weeks, years even, trying to figure out why...it is what it is and I conclude that more and more children are challenging the way we teach, they can’t wait. The village needs to come together to have informed debate about what is best for their children, and those children need to be given a voice. Students can lead change in schools.
So, back to your question. I don’t know your child’s story, the internet is clogged with ideas for this child and that child and somewhere there might be the answer for YOUR child. More balanced articles are emerging in relation to devices.
PARENTING TIP #1
I suggest you start a conversation with your child about what he or she likes on the computer and take it from there. While you get to know your "digital native" better, you will understand better what devices can do FOR your child and what they can do TO him or her. My son and I could see a million plusses about Minecraft while society and school saw 1,000,000 faults.
PARENTING TIP #2
How much is the computer a glorified TV without censorship. As a parent I was horrified (and I don’t think this is an exaggeration) when my 9 year old described what he had seen on the net at a friend’s place. It is sickening and I wish he hadn't seen it but it was a chance to learn about critical thinking around the internet. There was no blame, nor shame, we have less and less control over access but we can begin important discussion, debate and negotiation around content and safety.
PARENTING TIP #3
How many ways can your child use a device to create? When a device is used as a glorified TV, we call this consuming, devices can also be used to create. How many ways do we as adults, use a device to create? Children are inspired by what surrounds them. A “do as I say, not as I do” mentality doesn’t work. Your children will mirror your behaviour.
PARENTING TIP #4
How many ways can your child use a device to connect? Social media isn’t all bad.... How many of our interactions on social media value responsibility? How many conversations do our children hear where adults are respectful and inclusive? Your children will mirror your behaviour.
PARENTING TIP #5
How many ways can your child use a device to share? How much do we model critical thinking in our internet interactions? How often do we question why we comment on what we comment on and why we share what we share. Your children will mirror your behaviour.
There is always something more we can learn. I believe that when we as adults learn more about this and that, our children learn about it too, through osmosis. Learning about how we as adults can be more generous, responsible and respectful is a start. When our children learn from the way we act, how to be more generous, respectful and responsible, they will transfer these skills to the digital landscape.
Parenting is about getting to know our children. Parenting in this digital landscape is STILL about getting to know our children while continuing to learn more about what we value.
So if it really does take a village, a conversation without demonising the dreaded devices needs to occur with your children and the people who surround them...we can learn a lot about the future from them...
"Your sons and your daughters, Are beyond your command, Your old road is Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one, If you can't lend your hand. For the times they are a-changin'."
Therese is from a large family with three children of her own. Mr 26, Miss 24 and Master 15. As an educator with many years of experience, she has collected plenty of stories, she uses these and family tales to inform her teaching practice.
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