With the start of the school year, my husband and I are trying to figure out how to manage screen time. Our oldest is entering second grade and we want to help him have good homework habits. We can already see that he's someone who will easily succumb to temptation. Are we over-thinking this? Is second grade too soon for us to be thinking about it?
From: Mom'nDad, Detroit
Absolutely not too soon to be thinking about it. In fact, I credit my son's second grade teachers -- shout-out for Sue Sherman and Larry Donovan; are you out there? -- for instilling organizational habits in my son that stayed with him all the way through school. When he first came home -- in second grade -- with a homework assignment pad, I thought it was way over the top. Too much too soon. But the teachers helped the class fill it in every day, and he took a huge amount of pride in keeping it neat. Truly, I think that's where he developed his handwriting, which is the best in the family, because there was accountability and recognition for legibility, etc.
Anyway, those same teachers urged students to have a no-TV policy on school nights. That was a real twist on things, because they created a classroom ethic around TV, where the kids came home and suggested this to the parents. You've got a favorite night-time show (well, no; most second graders don't, but there is an occasional sporting event), then record it and watch in on the weekend. Now I know that many teachers would be loathe to do this, and many parents would be up in arms if they did. But it worked.
So, no, I don't think it's too early, and yes, I'm all for a policy regarding screen use on school nights. There are many ways to do this, but I think the families that have the most success with this negotiate the rules rather than having parents impose them. Is there no TV at all? TV after homework is done? What procedure is there for verification that homework is done? Is computer screen time is separate from TV time, agree to when and how much? 10 minutes in between a subject? (This might not matter too much in second grade, but it will in later years.) Who keeps track of the 10 mins? (Hint: Use a timer. It's objective.)
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