Welcome to our New Year Homeschool Restart Series! If you are just joining us, here’s what you’ve missed so far:
- HOMESCHOOLING GOT DERAILED BY THE HOLIDAYS? Let’s get Back On Track together!
- Overcoming the AFTER-CHRISTMAS-COMA before the Homeschool Restart!
- Printable FILL-IN-THE-BLANK, COLOR-ME THANK YOU NOTES!
- ~KIDS’ CALENDAR of Verses to Navigate a Volatile World~
- The Homeschool Morning Makeover Part 1: First, LET’S END THE PAJAMA WAR!
- The Homeschool Morning Makeover Part 2: LET’S FREE CINDERELLA (hint . . . she’s probably you)!
The holidays can really wreak some havoc on the Homeschool day . . . and mornings may fare worst of all. Just like those extra holiday pounds, we may have also allowed some sticky holiday habits to really settle in and seep into our Homeschool routine this New Year. Join us this week as we continue to uncover four major morning trouble spots that are bound and determined to unravel the entire Homeschool day!
For our third Homeschool morning trouble spot . . .
Let’s rein in “Screen-Time”!
Let me start out by assuring you that I’m NOT going to tell you how much “screen-time” is the *right* or *permissible* or *perfect* amount. I doubt such a number even really exists.
“Screen-time” is a big topic, and it’s been a hot one too over the past couple of decades. But our current series is not specifically about screen-time. These past two weeks, we have been focusing on trouble-shooting the Homeschool morning. So, all I will say in regards to “screen-time” as it relates to this series is that I believe MORNINGS to be the absolute worst possible time of day for TV, movie viewing, or any other virtual, screen-based activity.
Saturday morning cartoons should be just that . . . on Saturday. And I think the reason why the weekend TV cartoon thing took off in such a big way some sixty years ago is that it was a long-awaited treat to celebrate the end of the school week—an extra fun and indulgent morning at home. And you know what, I think there is arguably some merit to that.
Fast-forward to today, however, and cartoons air EVERY SINGLE MORNING (and often the entire day). Worse still, these programs are crammed with commercials that are even crappier than the cartoons they are sandwiched between. Of course, this is not a huge issue for kids who go to school on weekdays. But for those of us who Homeschool? Well, our kids spend most every morning at home. And the allure of the ever-present flat-screen on the wall can pose a big issue for the health of our Homeschools.
How AM “Screen-Time” tends to unravel the entire Homeschool day:
Why can’t the Homeschool day start with a little TV time? What’s the harm? I think quite a bit. Firstly, our Homeschool mornings shouldn’t feel like Saturday mornings. Our kids need the structure, not to mention culture, of predictable “this is a weekday” and “this is a weekend day” schedules and routines. They need to know that during each week, some days are mostly for work, others mostly for play, and hopefully one day mostly for rest. (We’re still working on that one). Secondly, I have found that if our kids start the day with “screen-time” . . . the rest of the day is almost sure to be an uphill battle, and one that I’m simply no match for. It’s hard for much of anything to compete with the allure of the silver screen for kids . . . math and spelling perhaps most of all.
At the same time, however, I recommend NOT making “screen-time” the school-is-over-reward. If we do this, we can bet that our kids will just want to rush through their school work to get to whatever movie or show they have their mind set to that day. I realize that most schools and academic circles widely accept this exact sort of philosophy —treating learning like a giant pill to be swallowed and done with—but I’m sure you will agree that this is not an inspired way to educate. I don’t want our kids to merely rush through learning “what they need” regardless whether they are able to enjoy it or have adequate time to digest it all.
I have no interest in merely educating to “equip” our children and abandoning any effort to also “enrich” and “inspire.” And creating an enriching and inspiring Homeschool environment is basically impossible when we are competing against a screen for our kids’ attention. As a Homeschool mom and educator, what I most want for our children (yours and mine) is for them to learn to love . . . learning. This is made so much easier when we stave off screens entirely during our focused academic windows.
And in order to not allow the “boob-tube” to pose as a reward for finishing school work, we have to also take the focus off of mastery and completion in our Homeschools, and instead place the emphasis on the learning process and experience. When our kids know that the first half of the day is dedicated to learning, exploring, and creating, and that “screen-time” is to be enjoyed in another window of the day (regardless of an early “finish”) . . . only then can they be restful and present in the learning process. If we can provide an inspiring, distraction-free process, then the results (and yes, the scores) will come.
Personally, I am much more concerned in the process of home education than I am in the results. Why? Because I believe that if we are able to successfully cultivate a true LOVE for learning in our Homeschools, then our children will never lack for knowledge, ability, purpose, or fulfillment— for they will thirstily seek out opportunities to learn and excel throughout their lives.
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” -William Butler Yeats
The silver screen may glow, but I don’t believe that it lights much of a fire. I am convinced: a focused and inspired learning process needs to be screen-free. And all we have to say is no.
Six Ways We REIN-IN & REDUCE “SCREEN-TIME”:
1.) No “true” TV (at all . . . ever)
We do not watch “true TV” in our home . . . as in the kind that is scheduled and infiltrated with commercials. I have found monitoring our entire family’s “screen-time” so much simpler without regular . . . programming. Truthfully, I do not want our kids to see what is on the TV. Nope. Not even Disney channel. Talk about trash. From the programs, to the commercials, to the news . . . yech. We’ll pass on television, thank you very much. Instead, we opt for more control by pre-choosing titles from Netflix, Prime, and DisneyPlus and even going so far as to print out those options for the kids. I know, it’s a bit over the top . . . but it makes things go a whole lot smoother for us in the long run . . . and we have way fewer “whoopsie-daisy-I-forgot-the-mama-deer-dies” moments.
2.) No handheld or “personal” entertainment devices of any kind
We have one TV, one remote control. In the open, in the living room, to be shared, for all to enjoy . . . together. We do not allow our kids to have any electronic devices of their “own” or in their rooms. They are not yet allowed any access to computer, ipad, or iphone use whatsoever.
3.) Unplugged (aka REAL) Mornings
Our Homeschool mornings to midday are strictly screen-free (and that includes me). This eliminates the distraction, temptation, and competition of media of any kind, providing ample opportunity for focused learning and ample creativity to take place.
4.) Checking Mama’s (or Papa’s) “Screen-Time”
Yikes. We’ve all likely experienced that sickening moment when we watch our tiny toddler “texting” away on the remote control, their shoe, a block, or anything they can possibly pretend is a phone. Our kids mimic our every move, reaction, tone . . . it’s terrifying. If we truly want to reduce our children’s “screen-time” we MUST start by limiting or even cutting off our own. Obviously, I am reaching you in this moment through . . . ummm . . . a screen . . . so I am in no way claiming to be free from the digital world. But I am much removed from it for most of the day, and if you haven’t already began toward the goal of “unplugging,” then I highly, highly recommend it—for your own sake (and sanity) as much as for your kids’.
HOW I HAVE GREATLY REDUCED MY OWN “SCREEN-TIME”:
- No social media. At all. I cut Facebook about a year ago now, and thankfully never even bothered with Instagram, Twitter, or any other such platform. I also don’t Zoom, or Facetime, or snapchat (is that still a thing?), and I try and only text ONE person at a time. Honestly, I’m just so much happier without all these . . . things . . . and I think I can safely promise you that you will be too if you haven’t already started cutting cords. (PS. I’m anxiously waiting for my Iphone to kick the bucket so I can be rid of the darn thing. Accepting suggestions for which “Dumbphone” to acquire.)
- No screens when my kids are watching me. The only exceptions to this rule of mine: when Papa or Grandma calls, when we are watching a family movie together, when I am turning on a music playlist for the kids, or when I simply have to take their picture or video because they are just too stinkin’ cute. The rest of the day I keep my phone in a dark corner in the kitchen and only check it but rarely and when my kids are playing in another room or engrossed in an activity. This may seem odd . . . and in our society it is . . . but it is very important to me that our kids do not see me constantly checking in with a device. As for the computer and, you know . . . this whole blogging thing . . . I only engage during our toddler’s nap and our son’s “rest time” when our kids are in their own rooms sleeping or listening to an audiobook, and sometimes in the evenings after they have gone to bed. It’s no loss for me, really. There is no way I could write clearly with them in the room anyhow.
5.) Varying Movie Content with our Movie Ticket System. This ticket system IS A REWARD. However, it is not a “school-is-over” reward. It functions to limit our kids to no more than one “Free Choice” movie in a week, and ensures that they will also enjoy a documentary and musical each week, which I do consider to be educational.
6.) A “Slow-Start” or “Creative Start” to the Homeschool Morning. CRAVING CALM in your Homeschool mornings? Tune in later this week for a post all about our “Slow Start” to our Homeschool mornings. In this post I will share all of the things we do for our “Morning Routine” that more than fill up any gap left from removing AM “screen-time”—providing a peaceful and creative start to the Homeschool day.
Let’s GET REAL, together! Who’s in? Happy unplugging, friends!
Thanks for reading!
Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~