With kids and parents at home, I have gotten tons of questions about screen time and gender roles in play. Here I explain the benefits of both, while keeping a healthy relationship and balancing screen time with play time!
Screen time: I believe if done appropriately providing screen time (computer apps, video games, television viewing...etc.) at home or in child-care programs can be developmentally appropriate. Technology and interactive media help support English language learners, If digital storytime is used with children that are learning English it can help boost their language skills. I did this A LOT in my classroom when we had children transition into our classroom fro another country, or speaking a different language. I work on the UC DAVIS Campus in California and we have families from all over the world, It is comforting and connects home to school when you can connect with them through stories or songs in their own language.
The first step is to bond and build a strong foundation with them and this is a great way to do. Moore(2015) stated, "technology can be incorporated into the curriculum by using it to find stories or images to share with young learners." I would also find age-appropriate youtube videos that supported the topic that we care about learning about, for example when we learned about astronauts we watched a video of an astronaut reading to the children from space! When we talked about Italy, we watched videos, of gondolas, how to make pizza and how to make pasta! Technology is a "bonus" and an addition to learning and teaching, it should be used to support the teaching, not taking it over.
With distant learning happening, this is tough because the kids are already in front of a screen for their lessons. However, I encourage parents to just go with the flow at the moment. Home, is different than the classroom, and as long as their is balance in their day. (Outside time, exercise, non electronic meal times, reading) Their favorite movie or tv show each day won’t hurt. Nowadays, tons of tv shows and movies have a moral purpose or lesson, and this could be a great way for kids to safely get exposed to “social conflicts” etc and watch the solutions the characters find at the end. (same same, but different) Soon, we will all be back to a sense of normal, and their “social conflicts” will personally return, but for now, let them watch their favorite cartoon, with grace and balance through the day.
Yes, educators and parents should encourage children to explore nontraditional gender roles in play. Moore (2015) stated that "several strategies are being used to interest girls int the STEM areas at an early age." Getting girls interested to play with blocks and tools, in STEM activities help support that no matter the gender kids can be and do anything. For example, that astronaut in the Space video was a woman astronaut, reading to the kids from Space. I make sure that the classroom is enriched with neutral gender roles, in activities, books, posters, and opportunities in the classroom. Homes should do the same, including electronic choices, shows, games, movies. Boys should be encouraged to play in the dramatic play area, the focus of the dramatic play are if they want, with dolls, in the kitchen. This play should be both free play, and adult involved play where teahcers and parents facilitate and strengthen the themes and problems that come up in the dramatic play area. I know a lot of adults think this may be tedious minutes to spend Your day in, but these can be the best teachable moments, and they help the day fly by! Try it!!!
During this game of restaurant, the little girl is the owner of the restaurant, and I as the facilitator make sure to have neutral gender roles between the staff and the costumers.
There are single dads, business women, a firefighter female, a male teacher, a male dancer. Etc. It’s that easy! conversations can be started and learning begins.
"The proven benefits of complex
dramatic play have a positive impact on children’s development" (Lobman et al, 2016) that includes both boys and girls participating in dramatic play. Girls are encouraged to play in the block area, the sandbox, and the tool bench area, they are encouraged to play basketball and soccer if they choose. It is very important to facilitate and guide children into the acceptance of equality for all. That begins here when we leave it open to them what they want to play with, who they want to play with, and what they want to wear. etc.
We are here to help kids find their way in life, and this responsibility can be found in so many aspects of daily interactions. Having conversations through the day, asking questions, bonding and connecting are all very important ways to build a foundation of trust and confidence for both adult and child. We are in this together, and together we will raise the children of the future.