It’s week 5 of online school for C, and his fourth with me. We decided that he should check in with his class, to begin the week, despite having been asynchronous for much of last week. He was ready at 8:30, and the 45 minute wait was filled with music and videos, and you can imagine where he ended up. So, I promised he could return to his paused video after attendance, and he held me to it.
The class opened with the three teachers (ECE, phys. ed., and supply teacher) discussing dogs and their weekend experiences. They occasionally said “hello” and then “please mute your mic” to the students as they arrived. C was able to say “Look at my shirt”, and they did respond with “Nice shirt”, which brought a smile to his face. Then for five minutes there was nothing to engage the incoming students. C was eager to share, saying “I want to sing them my song”. I explained that he needed to wait, and he complied. At attendance he did hold up his new name card, which they commented on. And then, immediately, he said “can I go back to my video?”. Having promised, I “caved”, and so he then began watching a video of children playing with a Hot Wheels Play Set. It’s imaginative play, and likely has many of the aspects of his play at school with friends, suggesting new vocabulary and developing interesting plot lines. C is also interested in the mechanics of the vehicles and characters, and will both describe and critique the engineering decisions.
I finally lured him away from the screen with the promise of a sled ride, and so we spent much of the afternoon out in the fields and woods. It was a beautifully sunny day, and we were able to remove mittens and hats when out of the wind. He took his skid-steer, monster truck, snowball maker, and one of my windshield scrapers with us on the journey. They were a little difficult to hold onto on the slippery sled, but all were used in his play at some point in the afternoon. He is becoming quite good at steering the sled down the hill, and no longer insists that I pull it back to the top for him. So, I was able to pull up a lawn chair, and enjoy the sun!
His choice when we returned indoors was to paint, with a set of acrylic paints I picked up on the weekend. He had already used the three small canvases I purchased, so we cut cardboard instead. He understands that green and red make brown, and that was useful for his painting of a cat. Red is his favourite colour, and so his robot painting was entirely red. We will likely only be able to use this colour one more time before we run out. It is interesting to see how he works with the various sizes of brushes, and changes his grip to achieve the look he desires. Also purchased on the weekend were a pair of safety scissors, and so one of his cardboard “canvases” now has corners cut off, painted brown, and glued to the painting. I remember being taught how to use scissors when I was in kindergarten, but I don’t think I tackled cardboard until I was much older.
We continue to battle over “screens”. With a family television set, his Chromebook, and his Fire tablet, there is plenty of access. And it’s not as if we don’t like our computers, Netflix, and DVDs. We are NOT good role models, and so it’s difficult to deny his wish to view. We have been trying to incorporate some social viewing, where the three of us watch together. He either is entirely engrossed, or he becomes excited by the action and begins running around, participating in the plot. Having watched the live-action Aladdin, he was intrigued by our book of the same title. The only roadblock is that it is in French, and I’m not able to do live translation into English, in order to read it to him. He is very encouraging, telling me that I can do it, but my grade 13 French isn’t up to the subtleties of the plot.
So, I really think that having him log in, and sit passively in front of the Chromebook, is setting us up for failure during the day. Even when we visited the Virtual Classroom in the afternoon, he only chose two or three activities, and then went down the rabbit hole of toy videos. I think that, given the addictive nature, it would be easier if we never turned them on.
So, tomorrow, we will opt out, and I will keep the screens on the shelf as long as possible.
Stay tuned to find out how that works!