Many adults today are grappling to limit screen time. Schools that went high tech are dumping tablets. Doctors are concerned about what MRIs reveal about screen time and the development of parts of the brain linked to language development and reading skills. Families with anxious teens wonder if technology is the trigger. Most intriguing of all, the tech titans who made this all possible are raising their own children to be gadget-free. When some families try to put the genie back into the bottle, they realize addiction to screens is real.
Putting limits on screens is not a simple matter of storing technology in a padlocked chest because going cold turkey can punish the whole family. The first step is to come up with a thought that makes the limit seem worthwhile to the person that you know and love. Some respond to an encouraging smile coming alongside to help while others will rise to an outright challenge. Some prefer direct information while others need to see for themselves. The point is to speak in a way that makes sense to your child.
The busy Christmas season might seem like a bad time to try on a new habit. Feedback from our Large Room meetings says otherwise. Filling spare time with screens over Thanksgiving break backfired. Children who only have screens on weekends reasoned that, if they could play games on weekdays of holidays, then they could play on weekdays of school days. Crying, complaining, and crankiness decked the halls.
Christmas is a great time to cut back because of the opportunities to introduce liturgies. My mother is from Germany and we celebrated Advent every Sunday, counted down to Christmas with a family Advent calendar, put our shoes out for St. Nicholas on December 6, and prepared a gift for the Christ Child on Christmas Eve (a song, poem, or Bible verse). Think back to when you were a child. Are there little family traditions that have lapsed? Are there ones you would like to introduce?
Think about what your children can do with you to prepare for Christmas. Turn on some Christmas music. Bake, decorate, make gifts, and wrap gifts. Collect some pinecones, holly, or evergreens to make a wreath. Make ornaments for the tree. Write letters to and draw pictures for military people deployed overseas or to nursing homes (which some Harvesters have already done at school).
We have finished our first term of the school year which has begun well! Term finales help us see what students know, and we will celebrate with a Term Finale Dinner tomorrow night (November 14). Other highlights are at the end of this blogpost.
The response to the Large Room meetings—an opportunity for parents to get together and chat—has been wonderful. The meeting in September focused on questions raised by families eager for their children to thrive. In October, we chatted about the staple of school: narration. Early this month, we discussed a vital habit: attention. We brainstormed good after-school routines, natural consequences (positive or negative) for finishing homework, consistency, small steps, drawing a realistic line in the sand, room for grace, and how screens affect children. Developing habits has so much scope for the imagination that we will talk about it next month. Please join us on December 3.
One topic hooked our attention—those dazzling, distracting electronic screens. We decided that, while some children respond well to an hour of screen time a day, others need to wait until the weekend. In launching a new habit, Charlotte Mason believed the best way is to share an idea that makes the new habit worthwhile. That idea may be unique to the situation or it can be thoughtful reasons.
A couple of weeks ago, some friends had a brief talk with their child about limiting video games. They simply shared that keeping up in school was a challenge and playing video games only on the weekend might help. They pointed out the major transition in school next year and how important focus is in getting ready. The tutor had no idea of the change in screen habits but saw an immediate and lasting effect. The child rattled off the steps of long division and even pointed out which ones were confusing. The difference was so dramatic that the tutor sent a note home saying, “Whatever you are doing, keep doing it.” The attitude has been positive, thoughtful, and motivated ever since.
Our next post will suggest screen-free ideas or apps that mesh with Harvest habits. In the meantime, we are celebrating the following:
We have just finished our first full week! We have worked hard in helping your children get organized, ordering supplies, and building habits. They have already dipped into books and they’re learning what to do with them. If you are new to Harvest, you may have questions. Please contact the teachers, especially through MySchoolWorx. We are already working as a team to ensure a smooth transition.
If you have questions about a particular aspect of Harvest, your first chance to meet with us as a group is next Tuesday (September 3) for the Large Room Meeting at 630. We plan to talk about two things: (1) your questions and (2) The Feast.
We have already mentioned how you can help with The Feast. Today we have some specifics. The times are 1:00 pm on Tuesday and 12:00 pm on Thursday. We have a special page with links to everything you need to know about The Feast. Please click here for more information.
Our first handwork is going to be batik. Last year, Carrie Detwiler, our teacher who is also a talented artist, guided her class in making the batik pictured here. We’re excited about this project because it offers many elements of handwork. Students will develop a design, draw it, learn what a resist is and how it works, and paint with glue and with acrylic on cloth. Older students will sew the seam and find a clever way to dress up the string for hanging the cloth.
Next Tuesday, our first feast of the year begins. You do not have to know anything about art or batik to help. All teachers need is a helping hand to pass out supplies and cheerful heart to encourage a child.
We will also do our first picture study by the artist Vincent van Gogh. Each class will study a different painting by him. The paintings for the term are here and the notes for each painting are here. Over the course of weeks, classes rotate through the paintings. You do not have to know anything about art or van Gogh. Often what happens with our helpers is that they begin to enjoy handwork or art or music or nature because of The Feast.
Thursdays are our most critical need. We would love for you to join composer study and citizenship readings if you are curious. Our composer is Felix Mendelssohn: our playlist is here and information about the composer is here. Primary classes are reading a new book Among the Forest People by Claire Dillingham Pierson while the elementary classes are picking up where they left off from The Story of the Greeks by Helene A. Guerber. Middle and High are studying Aristides from Plutarch’s Lives.
If you have to make a choice, please consider being a driver. At 1:00 pm on Thursday, we take most of the students somewhere. We need drivers to take a group to visit our friends at Lake Marion Nursing Home and several groups to Taw Caw Park, both of which are in Summerton. Our back-up plans are to walk in town if there aren’t enough drivers. Our Kindergarten teacher Jennifer Bauduin has graciously offered to be the contact person. Please contact her or the offices if you would like to help.
If your child is interested in archery this year, new and old parents are invited to the archery meeting on Wednesday 9/4 at 2:30.
A community called to offer another way to learn for students in Clarendon County