As usually seems to be the case with me and blogging, I only get around to writing when the universe conspires to remind me, with a degree of a repetitiveness that I just can't ignore, that something is important enough to blog about. Psst...People are wondering about this, Bryn - look, over here! And here! And there! Riiiiggghhhttt. Got it. Clearly, I am a little slow on the uptake. Anyways. This time, it's apps.
I When it comes to technology, I am a bit of an oxymoron; I am hugely passionate about its (informed) use in schools yet I fiercely limit my own children's access to it. In large part this is because my time with my children is limited and I want to spend that time interacting with them, not having them ignore me while they stare at a screen. I want to read them great books, draw pictures, do crafts, bake and play board games with them; I want to build connection and memories in the small amount of time I have between getting home from work and bedtime every night. Not that I needed validation for choosing this approach but I smiled when an article entitled "Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent" crossed my path; apparently the guru himself and I are on the same wave-length.
However, I freely acknowledge that there are many times when technology just makes life easier (like, you know, nightly, when I'm making dinner and answering 400 questions and helping create some fantastical beast out of toilet paper rolls and wishing that I could just.let.go. a little bit and turn the damn tv on and therefore make dinner in peace). In those times, I want to be able to turn to high-quality apps that do more than just entertain my child (once an educator, always an educator. Sorry, kiddos). But in a sea of 40,000 apps in the iTunes Education category alone, how does one even begin to choose? Well, I've been fortunate enough to stumble across some really great ones, have a few recommended to me and found a few on great sites such as Common Sense Media. I share my favourites with you here - on my page aptly titled Great Apps & Websites.
A disclaimer, of sorts, before you click that link - I am very picky about the apps that I share. As mentioned before, there are tens of thousands of apps out there; I list 14. Why? Because a) there is a huge difference between a high-quality learning app and a game that has had the education tag slapped on it for effect, b) with few exceptions, apps are generally about practice rather than learning. Or playing, with a little bit of practice sandwiched in there somewhere. I have tried to find the apps that will truly help your child learn something new, whether they know it or not, and c) if I wouldn't choose it for my own kiddos, I'm not going to recommend it to you.
I have also chosen apps that are as general as possible in their scope (if your child is obsessed with space, there are some pretty wicked space apps out there but I did not mention them here) and promote the development of broad thinking skills as much as they promote skill-specific practice.
Your time is limited. Searching through the app store only to come up with mediocre apps is frustrating and not in your child's best interests. Hopefully my list helps you find a few apps that will inspire your kids to think and wonder and learn and maybe will even connect you with some other great gems along the way. Please share them with me if you find them!
This post was originally published in 2015 and still holds true today. If you have a little starting kindergarten or know someone who does, have a read, share it around and remember, it takes a village.
It's that time of year...Back to School. Every year at this time, Facebook and Pinterest are filled with posts about the 50, 75 or 100 things your child needs to know before they start kindergarten. Talk about stressful! Admittedly, the parent in me read those lists and mentally tallied up the things that my kid could do and the things she couldn't; the educator in me just cringed and reminded me that the developmental continuum is at one of it's widest points as our children enter K and this is not the time for comparison (is there ever a time?). Cue my lovely, oft-mentioned Kindergarten teacher and friend who very eloquently responded to one such post just the other day. Her response was so on-point that I asked her to guest blog about it here!
As a Kindergarten teacher and mummy to my first entering 'my zone', I'll admit I won't read these lists. I find them way too stressful and frankly, I'm maxed on stuff to worry about. While I don't generally think it's reasonable to make uninformed comments on random posts, I threw caution to the wind on this one and refered to my inner guide,: my heart.
If I were to make a list of the things the kids coming in to my class every year need to know, my list would look something like this:
Some things your kid really needs to know before entering school
- That you love them, always.
- How to love themselves, always.
- How to navigate mistakes as learning and opportunity.
- How to see there is magic in differences.
- How to be a good friend.
- How to laugh and enjoy fun.
- How to take care of themselves, each other and their place.
- How to achieve and maintain a happy heart.
- How to love books, print, art, stories, nature, playing, inventing games.
- How to love and be loved...
There are so many things that I could add but they would all be heart centered. It's my jam. My colleagues and I can and will teach the rest of the stuff (it really is just stuff).. It's important stuff but... it's stuff. What really counts, what really matters, is that kiddos feel safe and loved, that their bucket is full and that they can share that with others.
Parents, we know you're doing your best, we honour that. Many of you need to honour that in yourselves too. Don't worry about lists! Read this and feel it, for you AND for your kids. Don't we all need a little more of this? There's nothing your children can't do without the village that makes up their team. Teachers are part of your team and most importantly, your kid's team. We realize that children are each on their own journey. They each come with their own unique strengths and challenges. We too, want for your kids to be happy, healthy and successful, however that looks for them. We are in this together.
Oh, remember to take a minute to breathe and laugh too. Time passes so quickly, don't miss the moments worrying about lists.
Beautiful, isn't it? My humblest thanks for joining me on this, Robyn!
I'm Bryn, teacher, mom, book lover, athlete. I am passionate about living life with my family, teaching and learning something new all the time. I hope you find something that speaks to you here on my blog and would love to hear from you too!