Tech Time Plan Update

So often you get a great idea but a week later it fizzles…well I’m here to update you all on our TECH TIME CHART. It is still going strong and the kids are still loving it!

There have been a few alterations over time, but the general idea has stayed the same. Kids earn tech time during the week and spend it on the weekends. It is in their control, they decide how much they want to earn, how they want to spend it, etc…

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Here is a copy of our weekly log.

You can see listed two types of “school work” one is for every hour of HAPPY school work accomplished (no complaints, eager and efficient, etc) and another for minor complaint that slips out. They can earn 30 minutes per hour…but if they have minor complaints it bumps down to 10 minutes per hour and if they are unpleasant during our school work they get zero, zip, nothing, nada. Haha! Mean old mom doesn’t want to hear any complaints!

I also leave a category for BONUS TIME because some days they are just really cool kids and do some really cool amazing things that deserve a little extra bonus. Gotta save room for positive reinforcement. 🙂

Each spread sheet would obviously have your own personal tasks that applies to your family.

I tally up the tasks at the end of each day. Then on Friday evening before bed, I give the kids their grand total and they can start dreaming of how they will spend it on Saturday and Sunday. And I can start dreaming about sleeping in.

For example: if one earns two hours and twenty minutes for the week, I give it to them like this:

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And they cross off as they spend it. My kids found it more enjoyable to have it broken down into ten minute increments.

Most TV episodes are twenty minutes (no commercials). If they watch an episode they cross off two tens…and they also are looking to see how long TV shows are before choosing them. (becoming more aware of how much time they are spending in front of the boob tube!)

They seem to use ten minutes and then go play outside for a while, come back in and spend ten more. It seems they are getting very serious and learning time management this way.

They like being in charge of their time and they don’t like to waste their time. (funny how that works when it’s THEIR time) I like seeing them work it all out in such a responsible way. It is fun to listen to them talk about how they will manage/budget their time over the weekend. It’s really cute!

And this plan does still allow for a midweek movie or ipad time “gifted” to them by mom or dad. The rules are clear, they can NOT ask during the week for tech time, if they do the answer is NO. If I feel like giving them tech time that is my choice and they can choose to take it or leave it.

Anyone that is having the tech time battles with their kiddos, give this plan a try. It’s worked wonders for our tech time discussions! ha ha!

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Nature Mama in the Technology World.

Anyone else torn between the two worlds? The fantastic ever changing and advancing technology world and the desire to live a bit more like the Ingalls family on Little House on the Prairie? Well I find myself torn between these two worlds often.

Currently we have had to put a limit on technology in our house. We refer to the time spent on any of the many electronic devices available for entertaining ones self as “TECH TIME.” Because my son in particular could happily “tech hop” all day long, we’ve had to set tech time boundaries

Tech hopping is when your child turns off the tv and starts playing a game on the ipad, then sets the ipad down only to start playing a video game on the computer or Wii, Play station, Xbox, etc…And never seems to GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY!

We started a log where the kids can EARN their tech time during the week and spend it allllllll weekend long if they want, then come Monday morning a fresh start, any tech time unused is cleared and they must earn new tech time for the following weekend.

We started off with tasks we wanted to see more of, each family can choose tasks that meet their needs, but this plan is brilliant if I do say so myself! Here’s why: if the kids nag about tech time during the week, they loose time. (so no nagging) if the kids want to earn tech time they can by accomplishing the tasks mom and dad have been nagging about lately. (no mom and dad nagging) on the weekend the kids can happily be plugged in allowing mom and dad to sleep in, read, sip their tea, exercise or do whatever it is mom and dad want to do without interruptions. (I personally like sleeping in on the weekends!)

Some of the tasks we set for our family (to give ideas) were: 15 minutes of tech time earned for every hour spend outside playing (not including scheduled outside time or play dates) Since we home school we added 15 minutes of tech time for every hour of school work without complaints/protests, but rather steady happy work time. 5 minutes for using the Sonicare toothbrush for two minutes morning and night vs their manual brushes, 5 minutes for making the bed in the morning, 15 minutes for noticeable table manners at all three meals, 5 minutes for taking a bath without reminders, 15 minutes of tech time for every hour spend reading a book. (need to give narration for credit) etc…I’m sure you can think of things you need to run a bit more smoothly in your house.

If the kids really worked hard they could virtually earn enough hours of tech time to be plugged in all weekend long, so we capped it off at TEN hours max! Which is A LOT!, breaks down to two hours a day during the work week. This past week my kids earned 4.25 and 4.5 hours, which is wayyyyy less then they were getting previously during the week combined. So that was another bonus. Even if they did earn all ten hours, that still breaks down to the recommended two hours per day max set by some parenting something somewhere…you know some expert somewhere.

Occasionally during the week, I need the kids to watch a documentary for school, or practice an educational app on the ipad, etc…and in those cases, that tech time does not count towards earned time.

During the week, the kids are spending a lot of their days in nature again. They have built projects that sat collecting dust in the past. They are creating their own games, learning old ones, excited about a trip to the library again. They have read to one another and what mother doesn’t love seeing her kids read to each other! So sweet! Melts this mamas heart!

Our weeks are full of joyful natural experiences again and I can live in my sweet natural Laura Ingalls world. Then on the weekends I can be lazy, sleep in, have adult conversations with my husband and know I’m not holding my children back in the technology world by never having them experience the technology world. Currently my kids are very into all the coding games, so maybe coding is in their future, and maybe they will spend all day on a computer in their future careers, but they will also know how to grow food and enjoy the simple natural things in life too.

Finding balance in this fast paced world and holding on to the simple peaceful pleasures life can offer takes work. I’d love to hear how your family balances between nature and technology!

The Benefits of Relaxed Homeschooling Year Round

First off I should let you know we are considered “relaxed schoolers” And we relax-learn year-round for many reasons, some of the main reasons are:

1) I noticed my children (back when we attended school) defined learning as something you can only do at a desk with dictation by a teacher. You simply could not learn in any other situation. In fact they protested anything they deemed as school-ish outside of school hours. The class room situation quickly killed their lovely spirit and curiosity to learn, which broke my heart and frustrated our whole family. The children were stressed and their behavior reflected their stress.

By relax schooling my children have reconnected with the freedom to choose WHAT they want to learn, WHEN they want to learn it, WHERE they want to learn it and HOW they want to learn it. Which has translated into a constant stream of learning. They no longer protest the process of learning. Life is once again a peaceful learning experience, year round.

The process of “de-schooling” took my children a few months, but we didn’t see complete fruits of our labors until we as a family found trust in ourselves, our abilities and overall our family groove.

2) Before school I was a “strewing” type mama. Which is an unschooling term. And I stopped that when the kids were in school. I assumed they were getting their education at school. I assumed very wrong. Once we pulled out, I started strewing again. And once again our entire lives became educational; therefore, we homeschool year round, whether we want to or not. ha ha!

Everything we do has a degree of learning to it.

Example:

An average morning could look like this…sleepy heads surfacing, wanting to snuggle and listen to an audio book.

The audio story may lead my son to research the status of Pluto as a planet or not. He will talk non-stop about it, research it, make crafts of it, etc for a few days afterwards. Or become a detective like the main character in the story and start a sleuthing club.

My daughter might want to watch a cartoon DVD. I agree to let her watch, as long as the language of the DVD was switched to french. She will build a fort on the sofa and start talking to her stuffed animals in french.

It is still early in the morning, they are still in their PJs and nibbling on their breakfast….their minds are engaged in something interesting to them. The wheels are turning and I haven’t opened one text-book yet.

3) year round schooling allows you to take time off as needed.

I follow a few curriculums, because it makes record keeping for the state that much easier. I only follow curriculums my children enjoy.

I will give a giant shout out to the math program “LIFE OF FRED” my son will literally BEG me to do more and more chapters. My daughter is not a fan of math, but she is a fan of snuggling up with mom on the sofa to hear a story about math and the life of the crazy little character Fred.
http://www.stanleyschmidt.com/FredGauss/11catofbooks.html

If we sit down to do some text-book type schooling, and it isn’t going smoothly, If it is causing frustration for me or the kids, we can simply take that day off and come back to it at a later time.

Our state requires 175-180 days of school, depending on the year. By homeschooling year round, I don’t have to really worry about taking a day off or even a week off now and then. There is no way we will have 185 bad days each year and if we do, then something drastically needs to change! In fact we normally hit our 100th day of school at least a month before the public school hits theirs.

Other reasons we might take a day off are less stressful reasons…maybe friends or family come to visit. A spontaneous trip to Legoland. It is simply a beautiful day out and the beach or a hike sounds more appealing. It snows on our mountains and we want to make a snowman or go sledding. There are plenty of fabulous reasons to ditch the text books and head outside for a great learning experience.

Some families enjoy having a hard start and stop to their school year, but that does not work for our family. We see learning as something fun and a natural part of life that doesn’t stop in the summer or on the weekends.

My children do have some friends that attend school and can’t understand why my children love schooling year round. It does not compute with the kids that attend school, because they live for the summer break….to make that less confusing we simply call July our summer if people ask.

As I typed out this blog, my son was explaining this balancing experiment to his sister. (He learned all about this experiment from the tv show Beakman’s world. I am not anti-TV, but I am a firm believer that TV options for kids NEED to have an educational element. TV needs to spark curiosity that extends into their real life.)

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And now that I’m about to hit publish on my post my son comes up to me and says “excuse me mom, but do you think you could give me some homework?” I ask “like what kind of homework?” He says “oh I don’t know maybe like go research our solar system or something?” I send him off with a post-it note that says “research and write down five facts about our solar system” he runs off with a giant smile….a moment later he asks if I can take him to the library today…so there you have it, we will be going to the library today. 🙂

That is what homeschooling in our house looks like! That is what learning should look like IMHO and that is why we have a relaxed homeschooling style and why we do it year round.