Tag Archives: collaboration

Screen Time

Yesterday I read an interesting CTV News article about children and screen time.  I thought it was wonderful to compare screen time to nutrition – an analogy that puts the focus on the content of the programs.

Recently I was asked to speak to a group of Red River College students who were just completing their ‘Introduction to Family Childcare’ course.  As part of my presentation I included a slideshow of the past and present learning environments in my childcare home.

Screen time was briefly discussed during my presentation and the subsequent question period.  Yes, I used to have several computers available for the children in my program to use – and I did not even restrict the amount of time they engaged in the activity.

No, I don’t currently have any computers, tablets, or televisions that are available for the children to use at any time during the day.  The reason for the elimination of the ‘computer area’ was due almost entirely to the quality of content available and the fact that the children had no interest in ‘healthy’ content once they had experienced the ‘junk’.

Years ago when I first started my blog I wrote about the use of computers in my childcare program and their gradual elimination.  It is not that I don’t value technology – I use it all the time.  When the children have questions that I can’t answer we can find the answer on the internet – it is an invaluable resource in addition to their hands on experience.

Unfortunately I think the content of children’s media today has far too much focus on competition instead of collaboration.  The smaller screens further emphasize the ‘individual’ over the ‘group’.

I once had a discussion with the staff at my son’s school.  My son was extremely slow to engage in new situations and had a tendency to withdraw from social interaction.  They were concerned because he refused to use a new program they had recently introduced in their computer class.

I suggested that they should let him sit with and watch another child until he felt comfortable enough to try it himself.  They said that was not possible because it would be considered cheating and would not be fair to the other child. Seriously?!?! What were they hoping to teach?

The children and I have discussed the use of screen time – they all have access to screens at home.  They’ve described how they like to use their hand held devices when they are bored – it is easier than finding something else to do.  They’ve retold me all their favorite parts of the movies and shows they’ve recently watched.  If there are any ‘good’ parts in these shows I haven’t heard about them, the children  focus on the violent, destructive, mean or rude segments – that’s what they remember.

As I write this there are two children here – they are reading the label on a cereal box and debating the nutritional value.  Maybe I’d have screen time as part of the program if there were ‘nutrition’ labels on the content of every program.  However, I’m not sure I have the energy to break through their addiction to the junk so instead my program will continue to be screen free and really they don’t complain about the absence of screens when there are healthier options available.


The (W)hole Project

It started last week.  The preschoolers were in the yard contemplating what to do.  One of them suggested “Let’s dig a hole”.

This is certainly not a new activity; they’ve done it many times before.  It may seem like a simple task but it is not.  As the hole gets deeper the process becomes more complex. Each child has a role – scooping, filling, transporting, or dumping the gravel – all working together.  They have to be careful as they walk – too close to the hole and they may cause an avalanche of gravel that fills the hole.

The most interesting aspect of the project on this occasion was the amount of time they spent on the activity – almost a week.  Work was not continuous. Some days they worked for only a few minutes at a time before switching to another activity.  Then suddenly one of them would have an idea for the hole project and they would all rush back to it.

It took several days and each day when we went in the children asked if they could leave the hole ‘out’ for the next day.  Of course they could.  The first thing they did each day when we went out was to check if the hole was still there.  Then they’d decide if they were going to work on it or do something else.

Occasionally there were debates about the purpose of the hole. Someone suggested that they were digging for ‘electricity’.  “How will we know when we find it?”  One child asked.  Another responded “When we find the plug”.  🙂 Then they discussed how exciting it would be if they were the ones who ‘discovered electricity’. “Imagine if little children did something like that – they’d write a newspaper story about us.”

They added pipes because ‘there are always pipes in holes’.  Later they poured in some water which flowed directly into the gravel – that didn’t bother them since containing the water wasn’t the goal either.


They reached the landscape fabric and decided to expose as much of it as possible – and then they needed a bridge to cover the fabric at the bottom of the hole.

They tested the structure;

Then suddenly they put all the stuff away and filled in the hole.  For over a week they had been working on this project and now these photos are the only evidence that is left.  The ‘product’ was never their goal, it was the process. Collaboration, communication, problem solving, cooperation, innovation, imagination – all part of the process.