Tales from Lower School
The Calhoun community welcomed guest speaker Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, executive director of the National Association for Media Literacy Education, who led a workshop for Lower School parents on the topic of parenting in the digital age.
Michelle spoke to the challenges that many parents face today: navigating the ever-evolving world of technology with your children, teaching them to use media in a responsible manner, and protecting them from any potential negative side effects. She assured us that it’s completely normal that these challenges can seem overwhelming. “Change has happened rapidly. We’re the last people who can remember life before the internet,” said Michelle. “There’s also a multi-billion-dollar advertising industry that we’re up against, and we’re expected as parents to counter the messages that children are exposed to – no wonder this feels hard!”
So what tools can we use for successful parenting in the digital age? Michelle outlined a model she calls “The Six E’s.”
Be a role model in tech. Kids watch us more than they listen to us, and are learning from what we do. It’s time to ask ourselves, do we have a screen time problem?
Outline expectations, and set guidelines and rules for technology use in the home. Most of all, establish in your home that technology is a big enough deal to talk about often.
Have conversations with your kids about media that have nothing to do with the rules. Does your child love video games? Find out why, and play with them.
Keep in mind that for the first time in history, kids are growing up in a public space thanks to social media – while we were able to make mistakes in private as an adolescent. Be prepared to have open conversations about how hard this can be.
There’s an important difference between preparing and protecting, teaching and telling. Teach kids to ask questions, and learn to have media literacy conversations at home.
Encourage your child’s own media creation, by telling them about new apps or websites, signing them up for classes, and teaching them new skills.
Most of all, Michelle reminded us, “Kids might be better at tech, but we’re better at being human beings. Their tech savvy doesn’t eliminate our life experience – be confident in the wisdom you have to impart.”
A message from Lower School Director Alison Rothschild
In the Lower School, teachers have begun to discuss disaster relief projects with students. As an institution committed to developing empathy and social consciousness in all of our students, conversations about collection efforts provide a developmentally appropriate avenue for this area of our work.
The focus of our conversations has been around loss and damage to material things, and our desire to help children replace those lost and damaged things. Age appropriate conversations begin and end with reassurance that children are safe. As kids get older (7-, 8-, 9-years-old) they are able to extrapolate that there was also loss of life, but that has not been the focus of our conversations in school.
The responses to the conversations have varied tremendously, with some children enthusiastically offering to give away their toys and books while our youngest students, who are not yet able to understand another perspective, listen to the discussions and follow up with their own experiences with rain, water, toys or electricity.
I trust our teachers implicitly to provide safe and comfortable dialogue around these topics, but wanted to provide parents with some guidelines and some helpful resources to help navigate these and (sadly) future tragic events.
First and foremost, it is best to limit exposure to these events. Graphic images on the news or in photographs can be traumatic for young children. Children should have varying degrees of information, depending on age and maturity.
It's been my experience that in times of trouble, young children seem to hold it together during the school day and then process fears, sadness and other emotions at home with their family, often at bedtime. It's important to give children the opportunity to express their fears, ask questions, and then provide them with the reassurance that they are safe.
Here are two resources that may be of interest.
As I think about all of the events transpiring around the world, I am increasingly appreciative of our Calhoun family. We are all so fortunate to be part of such a kind and compassionate community. And I'm encouraged and thankful that our children are learning, right from the start, that they have the ability to help others in need.
A great math breakthrough: fourth grader Baelee has uncovered an easier way to multiply large integers by six; check out this video!
Baelee made the discovery on her own while doing homework for her fourth grade math class, taught by Austin Applegate. Although Baelee’s assignment was simply to fill in a multiplication grid, her explorations of patterns during class activities—using manipulatives and number games—prepped her well to notice yet a new pattern....
When Baelee revealed her innovative approach to Austin, he had her present her findings to fellow fourth graders and colleagues. Baelee’s classmates and several Calhoun math teachers tested the method with a variety of integers, and were amazed that it works every time!
One of the teachers wowed was Michael Vercillo, who was doing his PEL teaching fellowship in Calhoun's Lower School when the fourth grader first revealed her discovery. In a blog describing Baelee's method, Michael writes, "This is the sort of curious, creative, exploratory mindset that Calhoun and other progressive schools are aiming to foster and encourage in their students.”
Austin agrees, noting that Baelee's discovery is a also a great example of creating new knowledge. “It’s about inventing a new way of looking at multiplication," enthuses Austin. ”And it issuch a simple, elegant trick that it makes you say, ‘What a great idea; why didn't I think of that?’"
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