Tag Archives: screen time

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.

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Mirrors

There are mirrors all over my house – I counted them and let’s just say there are a lot of them. Some of the mirrors serve a useful purpose but many of them are simply part of the décor. It is the mirrors in the play room that I want to talk about today.  There are currently five mirrors in the play room.  There is the big one under the loft;

There is another one by the dress-up clothes in the housekeeping area;

I put a little mirror near the floor in the music area.  I thought the baby might enjoy having this one here when he was getting some tummy time on the floor.  However, I noticed that he never really paid much attention to it but several of the older children spent time laying on the floor and checking out this new perspective.

On the sensory wall there are two mirrors – one set on a diagonal and one convex mirror for a special effect;

I had several other mirrors in the nature area before I began renovating it.  They were removed during demolition and most will be put back eventually when I decide where the best place for them will be.  Right now I’m still observing how the children are using the space first.

The big mirror under the loft is the most popular.  Often the children use this mirror to watch themselves play.  They sit or stand in front of it and experiment by making various facial expressions. Of course singing and dancing in front of the mirror is also very appealing. This fellow is pretending that the loft is a ‘shower’;

This mirror isn’t only used for dramatic play though.  Having the blocks under the loft allows the children to use the mirror to add another dimension to building projects too.

The thing I find most interesting though is how often the big mirror is used as ‘screen time’.  We never really watch TV or play video games here but the children like to pretend to.  Here one of the children has been using the mirror as the screen for a computer;

This group of children is playing a ‘video game’.  There are actually dozens of different items that the children use as ‘controllers’ but in this case these three children are playing a ‘two player game’ and instead of getting a third controller they have opted to take turns.

Whether they are pretending to play a video game or watching a movie they narrate what they are ‘seeing’ since no one really sees anything other than their own reflection.  It demonstrates their imagination, vocabulary and story telling skills.  There is the occasional argument when one child uses a remote to ‘change the channel’ and another child yells “Hey, I was watching that!”

I love mirrors 🙂