Good Evening Bobcat Families,
Sorry about the lateness of the Bobcat Brief. I forgot to his "post" earlier. Almost this entire communication is around tech and screen use for students and the home. While it is a little longer, please take the time to read through it. I hope is sparks some great conversations in your home.
In this email
- Important Events
- Bucks for Bobcats
- No Screens Week (the bulk of the communication)
Repeat in this Email
- Heavy Call Volume at Tular
- Helping your Child with Being Back at School
- Community Center Parking Lot
- Alternative Housing for Emergencies
- Just for Fun
- Next Week, Sept 13-17: No Screens for Ice Cream Week
- Fri, Sept 17: Minimum Day for staff professional development. Students released after lunch at 12:30
Bucks for Bobcats
Thank you again, to all of you who have already donated to our fundraiser. All the money we raise goes straight to our PTO to support the wonderful things happening at Tular. You can turn money into the office or your teacher, or donate online at http://www.bucksforbobcats.
No Screens Week (the bulk of this communication)
It is time for what has historically become one of the most enjoyed weeks of Tular families each year… No Screens for Ice Cream Week… where you get a week without screens and more quality time with your family and your child gets ice cream for participating. (A flier is attached and went home today with details)
This year, more than ever, I want to encourage the whole family to participate in our No Screens Week. Especially given the past year and a half where we all saw children spending too much time on screens (and we realize that part of that was due to the fact that students were on screens for school), now would be a great time to re-establish the guidelines in your home for screen use for your whole family. Our hope is that this coming week of No Screens Week will help you in those efforts and will give you time to rethink and talk about what tech use/screen time in your home will look like going forward for the whole family (yes, that means you too!).
We have all been in plenty of places where we see entire families or groups of friends sitting together looking at their phones/tablets rather than interacting and two-year-olds begging for their parent’s cell phone. And I am guessing that I am not the only parent who has stopped in my tracks in my own home when I suddenly realize that almost every family member is on their own device at the same time.
There is a significant amount of research out there about the impacts of screen time on children as young as 6 months. And it all points to the fact that, in order to prevent the harmful impacts and gain from the positives, we need to put boundaries on screen time for our kids and be strategic in what we allow them to do with the technology and that time. And most of us know from experience, if we are not strategic about it, the technology will take over and keep us coming back for more (and that is what it is designed to do!)
As a school that has computers in every classroom and individual computers for each student starting in 3rd grade, this is something we have thoughtfully discussed over the years. We see a lot of value in using technology strategically to enhance a child’s education, but we also want to make sure we use it in a limited fashion. We want to make sure we are teaching our students to be creators with the technology, not consumers. It is very important to us that the students not spend too much time on computers at school (or at home), and that screen time does not get in the way of people time.
Tech/Screen Time Guidelines to Consider
As you talk as parents and as a family this week, here are a few family guidelines that I would like to pass along for families to consider as you discuss what you want your family rules to be around screens. (It is important to remember that smartphones are not just phones, but are computers connected to the internet and all that the internet offers so it is crucial to set firm boundaries with phones.)
- Put a filter and parental controls on all your devices: This is just good practice so children are not exposed to inappropriate content and you can monitor their activity. There are great apps and software you can install the provide you with lots of options. commonsensemedia.org is a great resource for what is out there.
- Set a screen time limit: Whether it’s daily (i.e. 30 minutes a day), weekly (i.e. 5 hours a week), or conditional (i.e. you get screen time after you…) set a limit on screen time and hold everyone to it.
- No Device Dinner: Family meal times are extremely important. TV’s, phones, tablets, all get in the way of the conversations families can have during that time. Nobody, including adults, should be allowed to bring a screen to any meal.
- No screens in the car: There are two reasons for this. First, I always recommend to parents that they volunteer to be the drivers for their child’s, and their friend’s, activities because it is amazing what students will talk about in the back seat of a car. The children forget an adult is driving. Overhearing those conversations provides a great window into what goes on in your child’s life. In the car is also a time where you can have that precious uninterrupted time with your children (or family) to talk about how life is going and connect with each other. Second, brain research is informing us of how important “down time” or “bored time” is to the brain’s development. It is during those down times when you are staring out the window or waiting in line that the brain builds connections to all of the learning that happened that day. The car can be a great place for this. Today many children get in the car and immediately go on their phones. When they do that, it takes away from time for interactions as well as time for the brain to grow.
- Absolutely NO screens in the bedroom: This one adjusts as the children get to middle and high school. However, at the elementary level, there is never a time where a student should be alone in their room with a screen. Today, computers and phones are a window to the world and all the world has to offer, both the good and bad. As I said, as children get older, this rule will need to be adjusted because of homework demands, but screens behind closed doors is always a bad idea. No matter where the screen is the screen should always be easily visible to the parent.
- No phones, EVER, in the room at night. In my opinion this should go all the way up until, yes I am going to say this, they graduate from high school and can make the decision for themselves. People make poorer decisions as the night goes on. Children struggle with this even more. There is nothing a child needs their phone for when they are sleeping. In fact, we know screens prevent students from sleeping well. So, if you allow your child to have their phone in their room because it is an alarm clock (the biggest reason I hear), get them an alarm clock and take the phone out of the room at night. I would also recommend keeping your child’s phone in your bedroom charging each night so you can also see if anything is happening.
- Get a Family Cell Phone Basket or Common Charging Station: Having a place where people put their cell phones when they come in the door lets your whole family know that your family relationships are important, and helps your kids see that you are not tethered to your own phone. This helps keep people from being on their phones rather than engage in relationships with those present. This also provides a place for your child’s friends to put their cell phones when they visit so that when the children are playing they are doing so together and not just playing side by side on their individual screens.
- Wait on Social Media: No elementary student needs to be on social media (facebook, snapchat, etc.). There is even a growing body of research questioning whether middle schoolers should even be on social media. In addition to the fact that the law requires someone to be 13 to be on social media, studies are beginning to show the numerous negative impacts of social media on children, especially girls, before they are mature enough to handle it. In elementary school, kids are not mature enough and should not be on social media.
- Sign a family tech use agreement: You can get ones that are already made (see commonsensemedia.org for some great resources), or create your own. These agreements should be signed by everyone in the household, child and adult, so everyone is held accountable.
- Make Screens Social: Whether it is watching a TV show or playing a videogame, resist the urge for everyone in the house to be on their own device and use the screen as a family time. There is a lot of great bonding and conversation that can come from watching a show together or playing a videogame together. When you, as the adult, take time to engage with your child in their videogames, it demonstrates to your child that you are interested in them and their interests which goes a long way in building a positive relationship. I can also pretty much guarantee that you’ll end up with some humorous stories and fun memories afterward of how your child destroyed you in the game.
- Wait Until 8th: Resist getting your child a cell phone until as late as possible (thankfully, in response to all of the research, there is a growing movement in the country to wait until at least 8th grade). If you feel an absolute need to get them a phone before 8th grade (when my own children get their phones), either do not make it a smart phone, or put enough parental controls on it to limit who they can call/text, the apps they can put on their phone, and shut off the internet on the phone all together (thankfully parental controls are great now so you can have a lot of control over what your child can do on their phone – see commonsensemedia.org). The other option is something like a watch that only calls a limited number of people.
- More on Phones: Over the years we have found that elementary students are not mature enough to handle a smart phone of their own, the access to the internet and social media, most of the apps and especially texting appropriately. Students are not missing out on anything by waiting until later to have a phone that does all of that. At the elementary level, they only need to make a phone call. Some people argue that children these days need a phone because everyone texts so they need to text their friends. There is more and more research coming out about the detrimental impacts of children using texts to communicate and how it is impairing their ability to interact. As parents we need to start thinking twice about how early we get our children a phone (or give them our old ones) and make the best decisions for our own children, and not give in to what “everyone” in society is doing.
Even if you don’t adopt these recommendations, my hope is that these rules will at least spark a conversation in your family about screen time and help us start challenging the norm. Setting limits now, when your children are in elementary school, will make setting the limits when they are older much easier, help establish healthy habits as a family along the way, and teach our students about the importance of relationships and face to face time. We also want to make sure that as our children get older, we can begin handing them more and more responsibility. If you just give them full reign now, you will not be able to put limits on later. Finally, remember that children look to their parents as examples. We have to behave as we want our children to behave.
Like mentioned above, if you are looking for a great online source for setting family rules and expectations for screen time and online behavior, commonsensemedia.org, is a great resource. Enjoy using your screens responsibly to have fun and enhance your relationships, rather than allowing them to get in the way.
If you have any questions or thoughts you want to share, please give me a call. I am a parent in this with you and appreciate the conversations.
Repeat in this Email
Heavy Call Volume at Tular
With everything going on, there have been a lot of calls coming into our office and we are unable to pick up the phone at times. If you do not reach someone, please leave a message and we will get it and call you back as soon as we can. Thanks.
Community Center Parking lot
We know that parking is difficult around Tularcitos. Thankfully, we have always had a great relationship with the Carmel Valley Youth Community Center and have been able to use their parking lot before and after school to help with our drop-off and pick-up. Lately, however, people have been parking in their red zones, double-parking, and parking in non-parking spots. Please be respectful of our wonderful neighbors and use the parking lot appropriately so everyone can stay safe and we can maintain the use of that space.
Alternative Housing in Case of an Emergency
Our district is trying to help us be prepared for an emergency in making sure everyone has identified alternative housing and contacts and shared that with us. If you have not already done so, please use one of the links below to complete a CUSD Alternate Housing Form as soon as possible as we need one from each CUSD family. We use this information in the event of an emergency, fire, flood, evacuations and road closures.
- Host Family for your student(s) - In the event that your child needs a place to stay, a relative or family friend as a host family until you are able to safely reach your child. For instance, if your child is at school and there is a road closure on the route between the school and your home.
- Alternate Housing for your family- In the event that your family cannot go home for safety reasons or your family has been told to evacuate your home.
Alternate Housing Form Student Families - English
Alternate Housing Form Student Families - Spanish
Just for Fun
I don’t know how many of you know of the Holderness Family Videos. They have put out some very funny ones throughout the pandemic and with the start of school. For those of us who were in school in the 80’s, here is a great one I thought you might enjoy about the start of the school year.
Sept 13-17: No Screens Week
Fri, Sept 17: Minimum day for Staff Professional Development. Students released after lunch at 12:30
Fri, Sept 24: PTO Outdoor Family Movie Night in the CV Park – more details coming
Have a fun weekend!
Stay Bobcat Strong and Tular Proud!
Proud Principal, Tularcitos Elementary School
Nurturing Hearts, Expanding Minds, Inspiring Actions, Broadening Horizons.