Maybe Electronics Aren’t the Problem. Maybe Demonizing Them Is.

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“Decrease your screen time!”

“Have a screen-free summer with us!” 

“Say no to video games!” 

“Limit your kid’s screen time to x amount of minutes a day!” 

Do these headlines sound familiar? There is so much propaganda out there against screen time for kids, we as teachers and parents are constantly being told (ironically through media) that we are doing our kids a disservice by allowing them screen time, in any fashion. 

I do agree that spending our days glued to screens and media is not healthy. 

But maybe demonizing screen time is just as unhealthy. 

Putting screens on a pedestal and telling our students, “You can play educational games on your laptops after you’ve done 20 minutes of reading.” 

Or telling our kids, “You cannot watch TV until you finish your homework!” 

Statements like these inadvertently tell our kids, “Reading and homework aren’t fun, so you have to do those first before you can have something fun, like a movie or computer game.” It’s putting screens on a different, higher level and telling kids that they are inaccessible unless all hoops have been jumped through. 

We (try) to reframe screen time in our house by wording it like this, (and I say try because we’re still working on it and doing our best!) 

“Today in class we are doing 20 minutes of reading and 20 minutes of educational computer games. You can choose which you do first, but everyone needs to do both. I will set a timer for 20 minutes, you can choose to pull out a book or your laptop, but once the 20 minutes is over everyone will switch to the opposite task.” 

“This evening we have to finish up some homework and we have some time for a TV show. Do you want to watch one episode first, or do your homework first?” 

It’s not perfect. And it’s not going to work 100% of the time in every single situation. But our world has come to the point where the usage of screens is essential to daily life, and the usage of screens is only going up. The kids in schools right now will be using more screens and media in their jobs than we can even imagine, so allowing them the time to *safely* and *properly* use screens and make them a normal part of our day instead of demonizing them and making them seem higher and better than anything else will only serve them in the long run. 

More articles about this topic that may be helpful: 

Electronics Have Space on Our Outdoor Adventures

We’re a camping kind of family, it’s our preferred way to spend time outdoors. 

We would go camping here and there just for family events for the first few years of our kid’s lives, but just last year we got really into it. We invested in a camper, good camping supplies, etc., and now it’s easy to get on the road and go when we want to! 

Our camping supply list with kids was simple. It included (but was not limited to): 

Good sleeping gear
Good food
Lots of water
Kid-sized camping chairs
Fishing poles
Sand toys 
Life jackets + water toys (if we ended up near water)

And what felt like the most crucial part of our packing at first? All of the tablets, TVs, cellphones, and extra electronics were left at home or in the truck for the duration of our camping trip. We were going camping as a family to spend time together and enjoy the outdoors, there was no room for electronics! 

The first few camping trips were met with, “Can we watch a movie tonight?!” to which we replied, “No! We are camping! There is no Wi-Fi here, go play in the dirt and rocks!” 

During the next few camping trips, they caught on that movies were not an option, but we found that right before bed they were wild, crazy, and overstimulated. Putting them to bed was a nightmare even though they were SO tired from the day. 

At some point, I came across an Instagram Reel from @thegamereducator and it completely changed my outlook on why my kids were asking about screen time while camping. Watch it here: 

The script is as follows: 

“If you’re having a super fun day or outing or vacation with your kid and they look at you and say this, “Can I watch TV/ play video games later?”, remember what they really mean is this, “Can I rely on our routine today?” 

The caption of the Instagram Reel has a whole slew of more information that I would strongly suggest reading and looking into if you’re curious for more information, as well as the Instagram account as a whole. 

But after learning more from Ash, it made me realize that my kids are simply asking for a movie before bedtime while camping because a movie before bedtime is our routine at home. They’ve just had a really fun day packed full of entertainment and new experiences and what they are craving after a day like that is any sense of normalcy. 

And upon further inspection of my kid’s behaviors, I realized after a long day of camping they were showing signs of overstimulation. But wait! We don’t have any screens while we’re camping, how can they be overstimulated?! The outdoors is supposed to be the fix-all of parenting! If we hike enough and spend all of our waking hours outside, our kids will have everything they need! 

Spoiler alert: screens are not the only things causing overstimulation.

The sun is bright, the river water is cold, camping clothes feel different than our regular at-home relaxing clothes, food can taste different cooked over a campfire, and sand and dirt are in every nook and cranny. These are all different sensory inputs that can cause overstimulation when surrounded by them for extended periods when we’re not always used to them around us constantly. 

The excitement of catching fish can be overstimulating. 

The movement of the camper while walking around or the swishing of the tent in the wind can be overstimulating. 

The unknown of what fun activity or game we’ll come up with for the day can be overstimulating. 

The constant sound of the river running can be overstimulating. 

Screens are not the only overstimulating device out there.  

And after a long day of excitement, adventure, and exploring, my kids are looking for something to ground them, something they can count on, something to help them not feel so overstimulated. And do you know what that something is for them? A show before bed. 

On our most recent camping trip, we packed along fully charged tablets and Nintendo Switch. The first evening we were there we ran around, rode bikes, explored the campground, and did some swimming. Before bed, we grabbed the tablet and watched a movie together. When it was time to sleep, all three kids went down easily, no complaints! I was in awe, but also thought it may have been a fluke. 

On the second day, we had mandated quiet time after lunch for everyone and pulled out a tablet to watch a movie. After quiet time was over it gave us more energy to head outside and enjoy our time again. That evening we lasted outside much longer than normal. 

Later in the evening, we had plans for one parent to take older kids swimming and one parent to stay back to put the baby to bed. I gave my 3-year-old the option, do you want to head back to the camper and play the Nintendo Switch or do you want to come swimming? His initial reaction was to head back and play the Switch! But upon more contemplation, he changed his mind and decided to go swimming. I think he realized that he only had one more evening of swimming but he knew he would have more time with the Switch at home because it’s part of our normal routine. 

After a fun evening of swimming, we went back to camp and everyone joined in on a Mario Kart race on the Switch before bed. Everyone fell asleep without any fighting, yet again. The overstimulation seemed to be at a minimum. 

Our camping trip was full of the outdoors, exploration, swimming, and taking in all that nature has to offer, and it was full of movies, TV shows, and video games. 

And it was the best camping trip we’ve ever had, hands down. 

So now in our camper, electronics are not banned. They have their own shelf space and their own place and time. We enjoy our time in the outdoors and we bring our electronics along. Believe it or not, our world hasn’t imploded yet by mixing the two! It really is beautiful how they don’t have to exist exclusively, but instead, they can coexist. 

Do you bring your electronics on your outdoor adventures? What does it look like for you? 

Back to School Affirmations

It’s hard to believe that summer is winding down and students, teachers, and parents everywhere are gearing up for a new school year. This time of year can bring about many changes and stressors, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, there are many tools to combat those stressors, including positive affirmations.

“Today is going to be a good day, and here’s why: because today at least you are you. And that’s enough.”

Dear Evan Hansen

Positive affirmations are phrases or statements that are used to challenge negative thoughts. The concept of positive affirmations might seem hokey or awkward at first, but with consistent use, they can rewire and increase neural pathways. Not only can affirmations have physiological benefits, but they have been shown to reduce stress, boost self-esteem, aid in interventions, and increase academic performance. Our core beliefs are often formed during childhood and introducing affirmations to young children is an excellent way to instill a positive sense of identity.

Whether you are a parent looking to recite affirmations with your children in the morning, a teacher looking to incorporate them into her class routine, or a student who wants to practice them individually; here is a list of some affirmations to get you started!

  • I am smart
  • I am talented
  • I am kind
  • I am loved
  • I can learn anything
  • I always try my best
  • I am a problem solver
  • I am needed
  • I am valued
  • I respect myself
  • I am in control of my learning
  • I deserve joy and success
  • I can meet my goals
  • I do not compare my success against the success of others
  • I am proud of myself
  • I can do hard things
  • I am brave
  • I am important
  • My brain and/or body is powerful
  • I choose to include others
  • I can try again
  • I choose how I respond to things
  • I am responsible
  • I am prepared for my test
  • I can make a difference
  • I am creative
  • I am organized
  • I am capable
  • I see the best in myself and others
  • I listen to others
  • There is no one better to be than myself
  • I bring joy to others
  • I can adapt to any situation

I challenge you to choose two or three affirmations that resonate with you and apply them to your daily routine. If you need a little more inspiration, I highly recommend checking out this video:

Planting the Seed

Here is a brief list of book recommendations for early readers (PreK-2nd Grade). Stay tuned for more recommendations and more age groups!

Matilda by Roald Dahl

A cult classic for many, Matilda might be daunting for your littles to read on their own, but it makes a GREAT read-aloud! Trunchbull is a bit intense for some, however, so teacher/parent discretion is advised. Rewards for finishing the book can include chocolate cake and watching the equally classic movie adaptation.

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson

This book is a perfect way to teach kindness and friendship. After Jeremy Ross (or “#1 Enemy”, as he is known to the young narrator), moves in down the street, our narrator turns to his dad for help. The father has just the solution! A recipe for a pie that gets rid of enemies. But as it turns out, this secret recipe is much more effective at turning a best enemy into a best friend.

Who Wet My Pants? by Bob Shea

While it might sound like a potty-training story, Who Wet My Pants? is actually a story about how embarrassment can lead to anger, accidents can (and will) happen, and kindness is the best response.

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

This book is required to be read aloud. No, really. The book starts off with, “Everything the words say, the person reading the book has to say. Side effects of reading this book can include uncontrollable giggles, choruses of, “Again, again!” from the kids, and not being able to take yourself seriously.

What books resonate well with your early readers? How do you encourage them to be excited about reading?

It’s Time to Kick Some Class! (of 2022)

Graduations across the globe are underway and thousands of students are about to enter a new chapter of their lives. Facing uncertainty can certainly be unnerving, and there are many new stressors that accompany the change. For high school students, they are figuring out which college to attend, what major they want to pursue, or if they even want to get a degree. College students are now faced with finding a lifelong career and hoping it is relevant to their degree and doesn’t turn into a dementor who sucks all the happiness from their life.

Fortunately there are plenty who have experienced graduation and lived to tell about it. Even more fortunate, I am blessed to know some pretty wise people who were willing to impart some of their wisdom with you. So for those graduating high school, college, trade school, or those who chose a different direction, these words are for you.

“Once you graduate, you quickly learn that there are two kinds of people: your friends and those who were friendly just because you had a class together that one time. And that’s okay. Treasure both friendships and learn from them.”

-Kassidy Baird (Yours Truly)

“Always expect more of yourself and take others with you on your way to the top.”

“Don’t be afraid to do something just because it seems interesting! There’s a lot of pressure to build a resume or look good for college applications or whatever, but taking time just for the things you think are cool or fun is so important in being well rounded and not getting stressed!”

“It’s okay to not have it all figured out right now, or even five years from now! Find what brings you joy, be yourself, and trust in your own personal journey.”

“Don’t rush into anything and just live in the moment. Be where you are and accept all of yourself and life will work itself out.”

“Find what you love and follow that passion. But don’t be afraid to try new things on the way. You may be surprised at what else lights your fire.”

-Twin 1

“Find something you love! So often we get caught up in ambition and what’s next, when in reality life goes so fast! Take some time for yourself to get to know what you like and what things excite you. There are so many more opportunities for your future than you could ever realize! The best part is that most people love talking about what they do and would be more than willing for you to come see their day-to-day. Explore, travel, and ask lots of questions. When what you do excites you, you will love life and make the world around you a better place.”

-Twin 2

(It isn’t super relevant that they are twins but I think it’s fun to see the similarities in their responses when they didn’t know what the other had said).

“Start applying now. And know you have more experience than you think.”

“It’s not about what you know. It’s about WHO you know. Network and be KIND.”

“Enjoy the day. Let your family take the pictures and celebrate the crap out of you. You deserve it.”

“Don’t get sucked into the rat race. After high school, for the first time, there’s all this flexibility and independence and it gets really easy to judge our own paths by the milestones we see other people hitting or not hitting (whether/when people are married, when people get degrees, if someone got a degree, other people who get right into working/careers). But life is flexible for a reason! You don’t have to have it all figured out, so don’t get caught up in measuring yourself against a measuring stick that doesn’t exist.

I hope you guys enjoyed these words of wisdom! I have plenty more nuggets of advice that I will share in a future post. What advice do you have for the graduating class of 2022? Share your advice in the comments! Who knows, you could even end up being quoted in my next post.

Will Distance Learning Ever Really Go Away?

Digital learning is no stranger to any teacher across the globe. COVID-19 has overtaken so many aspects of our lives, and schools have taken a hard hit as well. 

Google Classrooms


Google Drive with sheets, docs, and more


More Zoom. 

Emails on emails on emails. 

And Zoom. 

All things that majority of teachers are all too familiar with. 

Someday, our lives will go back to normal. Someday, far in the future, we won’t have to wear masks, apply hand sanitizer every three minutes, or tremble in fear when we accidentally cough at the grocery store. Instead of hearing coronavirus in the present tense, it will all be past tense. Someday we will be reading about the toilet paper shortages in history books and recalling memories of quarantine to our kids and grandkids that were too young to remember. 

But when it’s all over, will our schools go back? Will we continue to have our standardized learning that took place before COVID? A teacher using technology as a resource in the classroom. Or, will this pandemic change our teaching? Will Zoom still continue to be a meeting place for teachers, administration, and students? If we didn’t have to spend the gas and time driving to a common location but instead meet from the comfort of our own homes, will we? Or is there an added value of face-to-face communication? 

I’m eager to see how our world changes and adapts to this new-normal, even when the pandemic is over. What are your thoughts? Will everything go back to how it used to be, or are we adapting and changing?