This was originally posted by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

So how many of you parents and caregivers out there are Zoom masters?  Google Hangouts wizards?  Seesaw professionals?  Microsoft Teams experts?  Ok, ok I’m sorry I know you’re getting enough of all these virtual platforms from your kids’ schools.  But, seriously who would have thought at the beginning of this year we would all become such tech gurus?  

I think just as important as learning all of these things so we can support our children’s education is making sure we encourage our little ones to take a break from these screens and show them that learning can occur in many different ways in the world around them.  My wife has done this in some wonderful ways so far with our kids:

  • After seeing a bat video as part of their units on bats, our kids then drew their own bats, read books about bats, made bats out of legos, and got to stay up a little bit late to see if we could see any real live bats flying around at dusk.  Then they put their creations and drawings on a poster board and presented it to me!
  • For their unit on “fall”, my wife asked them to help decorate the house with fall decorations and do a fall-themed scavenger hunt outside.  They had to find leaves of different colors, acorns, insects and more and collected the non-living things to put in a bag and checked each item off their bingo-style chart.
  • She has also found themed worksheets from popular shows and brands they really enjoy (i.e. Pokemon, Minecraft and more) and encouraged them to create their own Pokemon through drawings, or do Minecraft math.  Their favorite so far has been the mad libs where they are learning about verbs, adjectives and nouns while getting to hear a hilarious story based on words that they come up with.  Only one “poop” allowed per mad lib 🙂

As much as possible I encourage you to shift your children’s’ focus off of screens when you can and help them learn the joy of discovering new things in the world around them.  Using the videos, shows and lessons their teachers are showing them on screen and giving them real world applications will really help drive home the lessons and create memories and learning they won’t soon forget.  As our world gets more and more virtual let’s encourage our children not to forget the beauty that can be found in discovering the theater of everyday life.

This is fatherhood…