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Our Approach to Technology in the Age of Covid-19

We have this weekly white board calendar in our kitchen which I use as a reminder to myself of the daily activities that are happening in a given week. It used to include things like doctor appointments, work calls, or playdates. But, now that we are officially two months into social distancing and shelter in place laws, something very new is filling my calendar - virtual conference calls. Suddenly, I feel like a big portion of my week is now managing who has a call and at what time. And, I'm guessing that for most of us are dealing with more and more virtual social interaction and increased use of technology. 

Before I go further I just want to say that this article is only meant to share my perspective, and our approach to technology right now. This isn't meant to be a judgment on anyone who uses technology more or less. It's also not meant to be one-size-fits-all Montessori approach. It's simply how we are surviving during this difficult time. 

Typically, we are nearly screen free. Under age 6, we try not to have any screen time outside of old Mister Rogers episode when they are very sick or the occasional FaceTime call with family. Once Henry turned 6 we allowed him to watch occasional movies as well, usually once a month. But, even at 9, he doesn't regularly play video games, watch TV or have access to screens. We feel like this keeps our kids super active, helps them develop a rich imagination through a lot of down time, and directs them to read. 

But, we aren't living in ordinary times. We are socially isolated, stuck mostly in our house, and engaging in distance learning (crisis schooling.) It's meant that we've had to adapt and use technology to our advantage. So, here's a look at what we are doing for each age group we have here at home: 

Baby

Not much has changed in Teddy's access to technology. He still participates in the occasional FaceTime call, but I do keep the back camera on him most of the time so he isn't looking at the screen for long. But other than that, he is completely screen free and will stay that way for a long long time. 

Toddler/Preschooler

Gus is just about 3.5 years old right now. At this point, he is using technology more than he was before Covid-19 came into our lives. Since he is unable to connect with friends we have made sure to include some FaceTime between him and neighborhood friends. He has also been joining some of the video conferencing from Nora's school. This helps him get to know the guide and some of the friends that he will have next year when he goes to school. Typically, he would visit the Children's House to get these experiences, but since that is impossible, technology is filling the void. We also recently let him watch a nature documentary one particularly long afternoon when everyone was over being at home. He didn't really love it, and found it a bit scary, so I don't think we will introduce any additional TV or movies to him. 

Kindergarten 

Nora is in her kindergarten year at a Montessori school. Since she is unable to be in the Children's House, her day does include more technology to connect with her guide and her peers. Her school is doing 3-4 sessions a week. Two are group circle time lessons, one is a chapter book reading, and one is a one-on-one session with her guide. At this point she finds the larger class meetings a bit overwhelming and has the choice to join. Again, we have had more connections online with friends. But, we have not introduced any other non-school related technology, outside of the one nature show we watched together. She really liked the show and is getting to the point where she could likely join us for our monthly movie nights. That was likely even outside of Covid since she is rapidly approaching the second plane of development anyway. 

Lower Elementary

At 9 years old, Henry's access to technology has changed the most. He went from his Montessori school where his technology was extremely limited, to 100 percent online learning. This includes some video conferencing, app learning, and Montessori work that is adapted to an online format. Additionally, to fill not only his time and his need for social interaction we have allowed much more screen time than we did before. He has been allowed to start playing an educational video game, and calling his friends directly. Another thing we have introduced is iMovie. This gives him a creative and social outlet, but he is also using technology to make it happen. With more time at home, we are just finding he needed a few more options for things to do, and movie making very much fills his interests. I find it to be a great compromise since it combines movement, creativity, and logic. 

Even with all of this we have not made TV, apps, or video games a regular part of our routine. Our reasons for avoiding them still hold true now (probably even more so being stuck at home all the time) and so we haven't felt like we're ready to make that part of our routine. I do expect that Henry will continue to use technology more and more in both school and at home as he moves into upper elementary. But for now, I'm looking forward to the days where video conferencing isn't a regular part of my life or my children's schedules. 

Have you adapted your use of technology during this time? 
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