As we continue to navigate homeschooling in the Butler household, we are having ongoing discussions with how much screen-time should be allowed and when to allow it.
Like many of you, I compare notes with friends who are in the same circumstances. Everyone is finding what works for them in their unique environment, something that I have to remind myself often. My kids are different than yours. I am home during the week by myself with two kids, ages 6 and 3. My two kids have very different personalities and interests.
In our house we are using screen-time as a supplement to the homeschooling, mostly. Both kids children have a Fire tablet. We use the Freetime app that allows us to control the content and utilize age-appropriate apps. As an example, Macon (3) is able to explore books and shows that focus on content like shapes, colors, numbers, and basic pre-school style content. His favorite right now is Blippi.
We also purchased ABCmouse for the kids to use on their tablets. The platform is a self-guided tool that provides digital education in almost all areas. Macon can practice with shapes, colors, and numbers. Charlotte continues to work on literary and math skills, while being able to explore animals and the world. Once Macon and Charlotte gave it a chance, they have really enjoyed it, and we have seen why ABCmouse is successful and popular.
Admittedly, we have not shied away from appropriate content on Netflix, Disney+, and Nick Jr. Everything from educational-based content to nature programs. Most of it is not mindless entertainment, but if it is occasionally that is okay too.
Ultimately, our focus has been to use it as support to the other educational activities we use each day. It is not a substitute for going outside, arts and crafts, and the other traditional “classroom” activities we work through. The screens do allow support for me too. I have to have the ability to focus one-on-one with Charlotte or Macon, and allowing the other to hop on the tablet while I do that is very helpful. Let us not forget that I have professional responsibilities and tasks that I have to perform daily as well, and tablet time affords me that. Lastly, we need a break from each other, me from the kids, and the kids from me.
This has not been easy for anyone. Flexibility and adaptability has been, and will continue to be essential. We have had emotional outbursts, by everyone. A break with a little Blaze and the Monster Machines or Frozen II is not going to erase their minds. We will not do it all day, or even all morning, just for a quick snap out of this new norm back to the old one.
I would love to hear what others are doing in the comments below.