Wednesday, March 6, 2013

multimedia and unschooling

I was thinking today about media.  I'm the unschooling type who allows unlimited TV, computer, ipod, ipad, video games, whatever.  (not in the bedrooms, but that's internet safety, not limiting time.)  Elazar's spent a good bunch of days on the computer, to the point where I've been thinking about bringing Ari's office computer down.  And I am morally opposed to a 5yo having a $500 piece of equipment for his personal use.

I was thinking guiltily (as I sometimes fall into) that if I only had the energy to clean up all his messes, to supervise painting and building and baking, he wouldn't be on the computer so much.  I hide the paint (I actually just ordered new, at his request, and I haven't told him it's here because then I have to supervise it and if I'm not in the mood, he gets into it anyway and the mess is rather large), I have removed many of the toys that get spilled every single day and not cleaned up (small legos, marble run, tinkertoys, and gears.  he still has large legos, wedgits, some other building toy, and lincoln logs, and blocks.  It's probably a good time to rotate them, right?  But then i either have to clean them or supervise cleaning them, numerous times a day).  I'm often shooing him out of the kitchen when he wants to make a concoction.

Don't get me wrong.  I spend plenty of time supervising art, plenty of time cleaning up and rotating toys, and plenty of time baking and baking and baking.  (I don't particularly enjoy baking, and I've baked more in the last year than I have in the last 15 years combined.)  But my guilt told me that if I would spend every minute doing what he wants (which would surely be at the expense of the other things that are priorities), he would choose more real-life interesting things than multimedia.

I have a couple of answers to that.  First of all, I take stock.  Am I truly falling down on my obligations as an educator?  Am I truly being a little too passive, too lazy, too hands-off?  If so, then I can give myself a little pep talk to climb back on being a present, active, involved parent.

But if it's not true, and I'm being reasonable, because I have allocated my time and energy as best as I presently can, then I remind myself that he is pursuing what is interesting to him because he is learning something.  I never would have imagined that the hours (and I mean HOURS) that Chana spent rewinding and scrutinizing facial expressions on TV shows would be the foundation of animation.

It turns out I went to the library, and when I came back half an hour later he was playing in a different room, with lots of physical activity and imagination.  So he really can be trusted to moderate himself and to choose a variety of activities that are good for his mind and his body.

And finally, when I thought about what he's been doing on the computer, I feel that I would like to give him the space to continue.  He's extremely interested in Paint, Word, and certain miniclip games that involve reasoning and problem solving.  He's been sounding out words and typing.  If I get out of his way and provide him with the tools and the space and be available as a resource, he will learn in the most efficient and pleasant way that he can.

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