Kids computer time

by J
(South Africa)

I homeschool my 9 year old daughter, but I also have a nursery school. I work from 7.30 to 13.00 during school terms.

My daughter is largely left to her 'own devices'- I leave her worksheets (writing practice, spelling, bible verse, mazes or word searches) that she can do on her own.

She has typing/keyboard skills- mavis beacon and practices piano. I worry that she is bored - seeing this because she wants to spend more time in front of 'screens'.

We 'school' for about an hour 1/2 after I am done working.

Am I putting in enough? I don't want to put you on the 'spot' because you don't know me but would appreciate your input.

Shirley's Answer to Kids Computer Time

If it is any comfort, controlling 'screen time' is something that I am also battling with in our home. All my kids, from age 13 down to 4 want to spend as much time as possible in front of a pc screen.

Boredom is just an excuse that they use. Modern kids have just as much to entertain them as our pre-pc generation did, if not more, yet they say they are bored.

When my kids use that excuse I tell them that they need to get creative and find something to occupy themselves - like a hobby, a game, a puzzle, a book etc.

Of course, they don't always take kindly to that advice but I tell them they need to find ways to keep themselves busy or else I will find some work (chores) for them to do.

I'm not sure if your daughter is using that excuse or if it is you that thinks she is bored.

Anyway, maybe your daughter is finding the schoolwork a little monotonous, even though it sounds like you are trying to add in fun activities too.

Maybe this is something you need to talk to her about. Ask her if she is bored, talk about the screen 'addiction' that is developing, discuss the reasons for your concern and help her develop other interests.

Does she like reading? If not, I'd encourage you to read aloud to her a lot - that means every day. In fact, research shows that even when children can read alone, parents should still read aloud to them as we can read them books above their reading level and this builds a rich store of language data in the brain which will benefit their communication skills in the long term. It is also a great way to build relationships as you share stories together and can chat about them later etc.
20 Benefits of Reading Aloud

If you would like a comparison, we do school from about 9am each morning until about 1pm. My nine year old daughter does the following:

  • Bible reading and bible memory verse

  • Math

  • Language Arts - dictation and worksheets

  • Afrikaans

  • Touch Typing

  • Piano

  • Social Studies - we're using Sonlight, which includes lots of reading aloud

  • Science - reading and experiments

  • Homeschool art programme - once a week

  • History Pocket book

The items in bold require my participation or supervision. The rest she can usually do on her own, unless she has a question or doesn't understand something.

I think limiting our kids time in front of the pc is just something that we have to be firm about if we can. In our home, my struggle is that my husband and I don't agree on what healthy time limits are, so my kids spend way too much time at the pc for my liking.

However, they do climb trees, play outside games and read alone, so maybe its not that bad!

One school holiday, I let my children earn time at the pc by time spent practicing their piano or doing other voluntary chores!

Anyway, I hope this helps. Maybe others will comment too.

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Jul 25, 2011
Computer Time
by: Elize

My oldest is now almost 5 years, but I struggle to keep him away from the computer as well. We have the added "problem" that we use the computer to watch dvd's on, as we don't own a tv-set. Never did, almost certain we never will own a tv.

I have set limits for him and our younger son. They are each allowed one dvd story or game during the day (which is already 1 and half to 2 hours screen time!) and then they can watch a story together after bath.

The last "story watch time" are slowly changing into reading aloud to them, but I am still struggling to keep to this.

I am not sure whether it will work for your daughter, but I have seen a marked improvement in my sons. If they don't adhere to the time limit, I ask them to switch the computer off themselves, or I switch it off, and then no further stories for the rest of the day! You could make it a treat, as in extra for something she loves doing if she spends less time on the computer - to us that means jumping for longer on the trampoline with my kids.

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