Written by Purva Brown of The Classical Unschooler
Imagine if you will this scene: three children, heads buried deep in their Kindles, sprawled in the middle of the living room floor. They discuss strategies, show each other their progress, jump from game to game. Meanwhile, the parents busily work in the same room.
This was our life for the last two weeks.
We were in the midst of getting our house ready to sell. While the children played for hours, we painted for hours. A win-win for everyone.
In our home, we do not shun technology. We love it.
In fact, technology rules in our homeschool! Let me explain exactly why we embrace video games and other screens:
The benefits of video games and technology for kids
1. They give children the ability to fail and try again.
I have a daughter who did not speak her first sentence until the age of four. Part of the reason for her late speech is her dislike for making mistakes. I have often been at my wit’s end trying to get her to just try to answer – something, anything when it comes to math and other school work. If she isn’t convinced that the answer will be correct, she doesn’t like to try.
Video games, by letting her fail easily and often, free her from the tyranny of perfection. Many times, it takes more than one try to make it past a level. There is always another chance. Video games put failure in its rightful place.
2. They encourage cooperation.
At four, my youngest cannot do much on his own. He watches his older siblings do chores and advanced schoolwork, but he is simply too young to contribute much yet. The only place he is able to “help” in a very real sense of the word is when the children play a video game together.
In Minecraft, for example, I love to hear them cooperate with each other, “give” each other items and build houses together to protect themselves from attack. Their camaraderie is beautiful for a mama to watch.
3. They offer a sense of control.
In a world where children are constantly told what to do, when to do it and how to conduct themselves, I like that my children have a space of their own. Through games they gain a sense of control and self-direction.
Many times, they have to figure out the “rules” and how to win. They strategize, read about it, and work hard. I refuse to take that opportunity away from them.
Our Practical Rules Regarding Technology
While we love and make liberal use of screens, that does not mean we abdicate all parental responsibility. While we see much that is good with the use of technology, we also do not allow ourselves to be ruled by it.
Here are a few of our family’s rules:
1. Screens must be set aside on a regular basis for plain old-fashioned play.
2. No screens during meals.
3. No looking at your screen and walking anywhere – set the screen down and look in front of you.
4. If we find that screens get in the way of children listening to or obeying parental instruction and discipline, they will be taken away.
5. Screens are a luxury and we must treat them as such – children must take responsibility for breaking or mishandling them.
6. Talking to each other requires eye contact.
7. For a while, we had a rule that we would not use any apps or video games until about 1 pm. However, as the children have grown, that rule has been relaxed. They know that they can play whenever they want and this has made them more (not less!) self-directed in picking a time to get their schoolwork done.
Every family is different
Our family has found what works best for us when it comes to screens, and yours should do the same. As in every other aspect of homeschooling, there is no one-size-fits-all answer!
But I hope that sharing our story offers some helpful food-for-thought as you navigate the road toward finding the right amount of screen time, video games, and technology for you and yours.
Does technology rule in your homeschool, too? What are your family’s rules surrounding it?