As a mom with a circle of mom friends who have kids both younger and older, I generally hear similar things come up in conversation. “I can’t get my child off the screen. I know it’s not good for them but it’s what they prefer.” As a director of a licensed childcare facility, I see things on the ground that provide me with insight. Kids are using screen time as an exciting way to learn and to be entertained. I think a few of you could agree that they are missing out on the back and forth interaction and missing out on facial cues and at times the difficult politics in the classroom setting, on the playground, or even at home. There are ways to teach your child confidence,collaboration and other skills that will increase your child’s chances of success. My perspective is that the more our children practice face-to-face interactions, the more they work in small groups, the more experience they have in comfortable and natural settings, the more confident they’ll be. From a young age of 3-4, they are able to negotiate, collaborate and co-operate.
Here are some ways to set up small groups to increase collaboration and confidence:
1. Set up small group play dates with your friends or friends from your child's school, community activity group or other extracurricular class.
2. Bring something challenging and fun, like S.T.E.A.M. kits or make your own, bring a new fun toy, watch the kids and see what they decide to do .
Often times, after school can be a rushed time for parents who are trying to take care of dinner or drive children back and forth from after school activities. Even weekends can be busy with birthday parties,sports and other errands. Winter, Spring and Summer Breaks could be a chance to try these activities out – we have a program that provides this after school with Edify Learning Spaces. There are STEAM kits available online or through education websites. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Stay focused on letting the children solve their problems by themselves. They are learning a valuable skill. You can teach them to keep trying, that failure is normal, that it’s okay to get frustrated and that many people have to keep trying to get things right, even if it’s not the first time. Too often, I see parents run after their children and try to solve their problems for them. It seems small group settings with an adult guiding in an open student-centered manner, is one of the best ways to help your child learn and have skills that they’ll keep for a lifetime. Because it’s a small group,the other children will also get that attention they need. It’s flexible,inspires confidence, creates opportunities for discussion and feedback. These skills are useful and could put your children at an advantage for their future careers as well as their problem solving skills.