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Put Down The Phone

Teacher Sheila is back with some advice for parents...interact with your child and put down the phone

Happy new school year, Santa Cruz!  As far as I can tell, we are off to a great start at De Laveaga Elementary School.  School year routines have been established: earlier bed times set, back packs packed, and lunch boxes rinsed out and packed for a day away from home.

This will be my 23rd year of teaching elementary school. To think…when I started teaching we didn’t have cell phones. Beepers were only cool things doctors and “important” people had. Now it seems like everyone has some electronic gadget they are always fiddling with when they could be spending quality time with their children.

Hmmm, interesting. I am just as bad; as I sit in my kitchen writing this on my laptop when I could be discussing the upcoming election with my twin seniors. Wait. They want nothing to do with me. But, that’s a whole other column. I will tackle that one another day.

I am still perplexed at the amount of adults walking around our school, down the street, in line at the grocery store—wherever, glued to their smart phones.

In a recent Wall Street Journal there was an article, The Perils of Texting While Parenting, that discussed how children’s injuries have rapidly increased since 2007. It brought to mind something equally important as injuries: spending quality time with our children.

More and more today, students come into my third grade class and have never played cards, dominoes or even baked cookies from scratch.  I ask myself, are we too dependent upon these gadgets to be interacting with our children? Many simple games and activities that help our children learn about numbers and how they work, have been lost in the i-generation.

Professionals suggested that new parents spend one thousand hours reading to their children before entering kindergarten. With the addition of all of this gadgetry the kids are losing out on this precious lap time. I will take it a step further to suggest that we all embrace an extension of lap time, or, rather, talking and interacting with our children, asking them open-ended questions, making eye contact, and showing them that we are interested in their daily activities, lives, and friendships.

In other words, put down the phone. Nothing is as important as our children.

This extension will aid us all on many levels. The bond between parents and children will become stronger. Our children will feel loved and secure, their vocabularies will expand and their number sense will increase exponentially. And, yep, test scores will go up.

Guaranteed. 

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