Parenting Grows Ever More Challenging – January 2020
PARENTING GROWS EVER MORE CHALLENGING!
As I watched my own grown children interacting with their children (my grandchildren) over the holiday break, I was struck by the newest challenges coming their way … that of monitoring and controlling the amount of screen time that their children have on a daily basis. This year, 3 out of 5 of our grandchildren received iPads for Christmas. They were thrilled, but their parents were faced with determining how much time using them is productive and how they will communicate this to their children in a positive way. Add to this that all of them work and are concerned about how to be sure their children’s caretakers understand this as well. As I watched them set limits to the amount of time they could use these devices there were sometimes tears and often arguments.
I am in the process of reading an excellent parent resource that has become available, a book titled, How to Raise a Reader, by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo, Editors from the New York Times Book Review. The book helps parents think about the things that will help to make reading central to the lives of their children with the hope that they will become life-long readers. This affirms one thing that I have always believed and that is that reading to your child is very important in his/her development as a reader. This begins with newborns, and in our house, we kept reading to them until they made it clear that they felt they were too old. This did not happen until middle school. There is something about being read to that is relaxing and opens up new worlds for children without much effort. As children become readers themselves, we are tempted to give up reading to them and have them read to us. I would suggest that both are important. Time for your children to read to you is a time when they can demonstrate their progress as readers, but reading to them should continue. Having a parent read to them models good reading and provides a perfect opportunity to bond over stories and informational text that you can discuss together.
Clearly, iPads and computers have captured the interest of children and it is important that they become facile with technology, as it will be so much a part of their lives. However, if you want your child to be a reader, it will be important that you set limits on screen time and make it a family commitment to be readers. In our family, the only way we managed it was a daily time when the television was turned off and everyone read … yes, Mom and Dad too! Sometimes we felt we did not have the time, but once we settled down for a quiet half hour with a good book, we found it so relaxing and peaceful!
Though I do not want to sound like an advertisement for the book, it does include many great recommendations for books that your children might enjoy at different ages and things parents can do to help their children develop an enthusiasm for reading. I know it is not easy to navigate the world of screens and be a referee when it comes to monitoring screen time. Know that we support you in this challenging endeavor, and if we can help, do not hesitate to turn to your child’s reading teacher, our Education Director or me for support. It would be our pleasure to partner with you in helping to ensure that your child becomes a reader!