Computer use in 4-6 year old class with Tumblebooks? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 09-29-2011, 08:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My DH and I searched for a school that wouldn't push computers use. The one we picked is a home school/private school hybrid (she's there 3 days per week) and we love it so far, as well as our DD. We picked this school based on many things but one was that the school director reassured us that computer use would not happen in the 4-7 year-old age groups, and very minimally in the 7-9 year-old age groups. Our DD is in the 4-6 yo class and they decided to bring in the laptops for each child for 10 minutes each day to learn reading with Tumblebooks. The program is not animated, it is actually just the text of the story and as they listen to the audio of the story being told, each sentence highlights red while it is spoken. Each child has their own laptop and earpieces to listen.

 

At first I was upset because I thought there would be no computers for these little ones. Then, after gently voicing my feelings and questions, a meeting was called for me and DH to view the software with the director. I'm sure it's fine for most people, but I still feel like it's time wasted in school when they should be learning interactively with the class and teacher. My eyes even feel weird reading red highlighted words on the computer. My DD had a neurological tic early this year right after x-mas and we knew it was due to stress (in-laws, crumbling marriage, holidays, mom at work full time) but it also started around the same time that she was using an iPad when she joined dad at his office meetings. I made sure the iPad use stopped because I've read so many articles on the eye movement and brain development of young ones. The tic slowly went away and I still don't know if it had anything to do with the iPad use. 

 

Anyway, I still have this gut reaction to their computer use that won't leave me and it's haunting me, I've even accepted the opportunity to record my voice telling a story so they can do the same thing with real books (like books-on-tape), although they would still need to use the computers for the audio, there would just not be anything on the screen to look at). 

 

This is a democratic school so I know I'm able to voice my opinions, but I feel like I'm being looked at as a high-maintenance parent now. I also don't want my child told she's not going to use the computers while every other kid is. I guess this is a part of a 5 part reading curriculum, and reading while listening is one of the 5 parts. I feel like there could be better ways of doing this without computers. It's all a part of getting creative with these little ones. They will have plenty of time later to be on computers. 

 

Am I overreacting? 

 

Thanks for listening, and thanks for your feedback.

 

~ Austin Mama

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#2 of 11 Old 09-29-2011, 11:54 AM
 
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I'm not a big fan of preschoolers using computers but we love Tumblebooks.

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#3 of 11 Old 09-29-2011, 02:10 PM
 
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I don't let my children use the computers much, but I do allow some use. The all 3 love the computers at the library, using the educational software there. At home, they've been introduced to Tumblebooks (through the library website) and I'm impressed with it. They also have occasional access to the starfall website, as well as redfish.

 

Computers, and the software that go along with them, are tools. Depending on how much time they are spending with the computers, and also the results they were getting with that time, would determine if it was a waste of time.


Twin boys (2/05) and little sister (10/07)
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#4 of 11 Old 09-29-2011, 05:53 PM
 
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No you are not being unreasonable.

 

I assume that this is not a public school and that you are shelling out big bucks for this privilege, right? 

 

So I think it's perfectly reasonable for you to call the shots in this regard. 

 

However, I hope you are not giving the school these long explanations about why you feel the way you do about the computers. It's not going to persuade the school to your point of view, and it's not going to get you what you want.  In fact, if you give any kind of reason why you don't want your daughter to use a computer, you will simply make the teachers defensive.

 

When you talk to your school, just keep it short, sweet, and stubborn in the nicest way possible.  Just say that your child is not to have any contact with computers, and that you will be happy to brainstorm with them for alternative accommodations for your child.  Don't tell them why you don't want your child to use computers. It's not important for getting what you want.

 

When my dd was in full time daycare, I not only felt as you do about computers, but I also had a problem with TV/videos.  So I put my foot down, but in the nicest way possible.  I had no problem telling my child (when she was three years old) that she couldn't use the computers or TV/videos when all of the other children could, and my child has been fine with it ever since.  And the day care complied just fine. 

 

This is what I did. I first told the daycare all things I thought was great about what the teachers were doing to teach my preschool aged child.  I really laid it on thick.  Then I said, in no uncertain terms, that I did not want my child to use the computer, under any circumstances. I didn't state my reasons why, because that only comes across as criticism of the teacher.  I just said it confidently, with the attitude that I assumed that the teachers would naturally comply with my wishes, and that we only had to work together to find a way. I made it VERY clear that I wanted to come up with a solution that would require as little extra work as possible from the teachers, because I recognized that the teacher also had all these other children to deal with. Once I established that we were on the same side, and not adversaries, I started brainstorming ways we could accomplish what I wanted.

 

In the end, we settled on a plan that my dd was to sit in another classroom with a different class, and do an alternate activity for the fifteen minutes that the children were doing the computer.  As my child got older, she would just take a book with her to the other classroom. (The solution you come up with will obviously be different from mine.)

 

But my point is that it turned out just fine.  I got what I wanted, and deserved, since I was not going to pay for the privilege of having my child do what I felt strongly against.  The teachers did not think of me as THAT mother because I did not bring any complaints.   Instead, I put the both of us in the role of a team that put our heads together to solve a problem. This was mostly because I made certain that I recognized the challenges that the teachers faced in trying to instruct so many children at the same time.

 

So we did this no-computers-allowed thing up until the time my dd started K at age 5.5. (Actually, my dd still is not allowed to do the computers or TV/video, when she goes to after-school care at this same daycare, after public school is dismissed.)

 

In the interest of full disclosure, when my dd started K in public school, I did NOT put up a hissy fit when the teacher had the children spend one hour each week in the computer lab.  This is in spite of the fact that I feel as you do, perhaps even more strongly so.  The entire school district had the K children use Starfall, which in some aspects sounds a little like what your Tumblebooks do, and I just could not stand Starfall.  However, my child goes to a public school, and the poor teacher had to deal with teaching 25 children how to log in to a computer when they can barely identify the letters on the keyboard. Although the teacher could offer some individual flexibility in some subjects, in the case of the computers at my dd's public school, the computers are a district-wide curriculum choice, and clearly, allowing my dd to skip computers was not an option for the teacher. So I didn't even bring it up.  In this particular situation, I eventually decided that I did not want to rock the boat.  So I did in fact bite my tongue, and let my child participate in kindergarten computer lab, with nary a single comment or complaint. 

 

So for private preschool, computers was the hill that I was willing to die on.  For public K-5, I figured out that one hour of computers per week was not one of the many things that the teacher could offer flexibility, so I ceded that issue.

 

But you are talking about a 4 year old, and even when your child gets older, the school not a public school with a ton of children assigned to just one teacher.   So yes, I think you are very reasonable.  Just remember that your goal is to get what you want.  Your goal is not to convince the teachers that no computers is the better way. 

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#5 of 11 Old 10-01-2011, 12:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much! You are so right, I did explain my reasoning and the teacher (she's a new teacher for my DD age group and in charge of 9 children) got upset and emotional and felt unable to please us. I question why we are not able to voice our feedback if we're paying so much money, but I also could have just done it your way and not given explanations. My DD is turning 6 in a month. I have some solutions and have discussed with the teacher, but I still feel like I backed down because I was beginning to feel as though they thought of me as the high-maintenance parent. I guess I need to be very proactive now in alternative solutions. But also, I need to somehow figure out how to communicate with the teacher so I'm able to speak my heart about these things. 

 

Thank you again, reading this has helped very much.

 

:)

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#6 of 11 Old 10-01-2011, 04:05 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emilysmama View Post

No you are not being unreasonable.

 

I assume that this is not a public school and that you are shelling out big bucks for this privilege, right? 

 

So I think it's perfectly reasonable for you to call the shots in this regard. 

 

However, I hope you are not giving the school these long explanations about why you feel the way you do about the computers. It's not going to persuade the school to your point of view, and it's not going to get you what you want.  In fact, if you give any kind of reason why you don't want your daughter to use a computer, you will simply make the teachers defensive.

 

When you talk to your school, just keep it short, sweet, and stubborn in the nicest way possible.  Just say that your child is not to have any contact with computers, and that you will be happy to brainstorm with them for alternative accommodations for your child.  Don't tell them why you don't want your child to use computers. It's not important for getting what you want.

 

When my dd was in full time daycare, I not only felt as you do about computers, but I also had a problem with TV/videos.  So I put my foot down, but in the nicest way possible.  I had no problem telling my child (when she was three years old) that she couldn't use the computers or TV/videos when all of the other children could, and my child has been fine with it ever since.  And the day care complied just fine. 

 

This is what I did. I first told the daycare all things I thought was great about what the teachers were doing to teach my preschool aged child.  I really laid it on thick.  Then I said, in no uncertain terms, that I did not want my child to use the computer, under any circumstances. I didn't state my reasons why, because that only comes across as criticism of the teacher.  I just said it confidently, with the attitude that I assumed that the teachers would naturally comply with my wishes, and that we only had to work together to find a way. I made it VERY clear that I wanted to come up with a solution that would require as little extra work as possible from the teachers, because I recognized that the teacher also had all these other children to deal with. Once I established that we were on the same side, and not adversaries, I started brainstorming ways we could accomplish what I wanted.

 

In the end, we settled on a plan that my dd was to sit in another classroom with a different class, and do an alternate activity for the fifteen minutes that the children were doing the computer.  As my child got older, she would just take a book with her to the other classroom. (The solution you come up with will obviously be different from mine.)

 

But my point is that it turned out just fine.  I got what I wanted, and deserved, since I was not going to pay for the privilege of having my child do what I felt strongly against.  The teachers did not think of me as THAT mother because I did not bring any complaints.   Instead, I put the both of us in the role of a team that put our heads together to solve a problem. This was mostly because I made certain that I recognized the challenges that the teachers faced in trying to instruct so many children at the same time.

 

So we did this no-computers-allowed thing up until the time my dd started K at age 5.5. (Actually, my dd still is not allowed to do the computers or TV/video, when she goes to after-school care at this same daycare, after public school is dismissed.)

 

In the interest of full disclosure, when my dd started K in public school, I did NOT put up a hissy fit when the teacher had the children spend one hour each week in the computer lab.  This is in spite of the fact that I feel as you do, perhaps even more strongly so.  The entire school district had the K children use Starfall, which in some aspects sounds a little like what your Tumblebooks do, and I just could not stand Starfall.  However, my child goes to a public school, and the poor teacher had to deal with teaching 25 children how to log in to a computer when they can barely identify the letters on the keyboard. Although the teacher could offer some individual flexibility in some subjects, in the case of the computers at my dd's public school, the computers are a district-wide curriculum choice, and clearly, allowing my dd to skip computers was not an option for the teacher. So I didn't even bring it up.  In this particular situation, I eventually decided that I did not want to rock the boat.  So I did in fact bite my tongue, and let my child participate in kindergarten computer lab, with nary a single comment or complaint. 

 

So for private preschool, computers was the hill that I was willing to die on.  For public K-5, I figured out that one hour of computers per week was not one of the many things that the teacher could offer flexibility, so I ceded that issue.

 

But you are talking about a 4 year old, and even when your child gets older, the school not a public school with a ton of children assigned to just one teacher.   So yes, I think you are very reasonable.  Just remember that your goal is to get what you want.  Your goal is not to convince the teachers that no computers is the better way. 


I bet they did think of you as "that mother." They just didn't let you know they felt that way. If a parent came to me and told me they didn't want their child to do something but was unwilling to tell me WHY, I would feel the same way.

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#7 of 11 Old 10-01-2011, 08:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think the new teacher is just very sensitive to everything right now and wants to do a good job. I explained everything I did in the OP to her and the principle. I just hope I'm able to communicate with her my opinions in the future without her getting upset as though it's her fault and she can't please us. She's a very sweet, good teacher, and she didn't know that the principle had told us that computers were not going to be used in this age group. 

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#8 of 11 Old 10-01-2011, 08:16 PM
 
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10 minutes a day for what is going to be a short time is nothing I would complain about.

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#9 of 11 Old 10-03-2011, 02:12 PM
 
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I bet they did think of you as "that mother." They just didn't let you know they felt that way. If a parent came to me and told me they didn't want their child to do something but was unwilling to tell me WHY, I would feel the same way.


You certainly could be right.  (I don't think so, based on the cues the teachers have given me and their responses to my outright questions about whether things were uncomfortable as a result.  However, the teachers could certainly have been very experienced at hiding a defensive reaction.) So yes, it is possible that they still think of me as "that mother".  If they do, then they have been very gracious ever since then about welcoming any additional requests and feedback that I have brought to them, and it is a credit to their professionalism.

 

In my previous posting, when I stated that I made my request without immediately explaining my reasons WHY, I was remiss because I did not complete  the thought.  What I should have said is that I did not volunteer my reasons without the teacher first asking.  I should have said that I first stated my request, asking if together we could come up with an alternative, and then I paused to give the teachers the opportunity to comment.  I gave the teachers the opportunity to ask me WHY, which would have been a natural question if that was actually an interest of the teachers', but the teachers never even bothered to ask why because the teachers immediately moved the conversation to trying to think of ways to honor my request.

 

(In a couple cases, right after I made my request, some of the teachers actually responded by correctly guessing the reasons for my request without my having to even to mention a thing. I was astounded when those teachers immediately told me that they actually thought that it was great that I wanted my child to avoid the computer.   In those cases, I simply gave a noncommittal response because I did not want to say anything negative about parents who are fine with the computer. I didn't even want to give the teachers any hint of possible comparisons with parents who do things differently from me.  The only goal for me was just no computers for my child.)

 

I was remiss if you got the impression that I adamantly refused to give the reasons why.   (There have certainly been other requests that I have made where the teacher immediately asked WHY, and in those instances I was happy to reply with my reasons.) 

 

My point is that if you make your request and immediately try to justify your request, then you are putting yourself in the weaker negotiating position as if your need to defend yourself, and at the same time you are putting the teacher in a very difficult position of having to defend herself, when she might actually be happy to help and not really care about your reasons. 

 

I guess I didn't make my point clearly.  I simply meant that you can attract more flies with honey than with vinegar. I was simply encouraging the OP not to think of this as an adversarial confrontation, but simply as a problem for parent and teacher to collaborate in finding a mutually acceptable solution.

 

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#10 of 11 Old 10-03-2011, 07:33 PM
 
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 I guess I need to be very proactive now in alternative solutions. But also, I need to somehow figure out how to communicate with the teacher so I'm able to speak my heart about these things. 

You don't actually have to come up with the alternative solutions.  You just have to come into the conversation projecting a willingness to work with the teacher to figure out the solution.  If you speak with the right positive attitude, the teacher will start thinking up ideas of her own and ask you what you think about them.  That's good, because then the teacher will own the solution, and be more likely to execute it.  Also, the teacher is definitely going to know better than you what will work better while she is dealing with those other children at the same time, and whether it will be a lot of extra work for her. 

 

All you really have to do, after a cheerful, "Why don't we put our heads together and try to come up with a couple ideas to try that won't create additional work for you?", is to maybe start the brainstorming by offering a little trial balloon of a possible solution, and ask whether it would work or if it could be modified to require less work on the teacher's part.  Then the teacher will tell you what she thinks.  If the teacher thinks it will be too much work, then you simply encourage, "Okay, then what can we do that wouldn't be too much work for you?", and the teacher will come up with some ideas of her own that will probably be just fine with you.  Then you just have to insert concerned comments like, "but will this create too much extra work for you?".  Then, the teacher will most likely say that it won't be any extra work at all, or will suggest a slight modification that will make the solution better for her. You want your teacher to buy into the solution so that she will participate with enthusiasm, not grudgingly.

 

Then teacher walks away having saved face,  proud that she solved her own problem, still feels that she is in control of her classroom, and you get what you want.

 

If you still meet with resistance, then try, "How about we give it a one month trial, and then get together to reassess how it's working and tweak". Don't just say one month trial, because it implies a willingness to just give it up if it doesn't work on the first try.  When my dd started enormous mainstream daycare at six months, they had never heard of cloth diapers, and the initial two week trial of cloth diapers eventually ended 4 years later when she was totally out of cloth diapers and cloth trainers, with not even a hint of a grumble. (My husband did not want to give up TV, but I easily persuaded him to give up all TV and cut off our cable, on a two month trial basis.  We are still in year 4 of our trial, and he doesn't miss TV/cable at all.)

 

I don't think your problems have much to do with the amount of the teacher's experience.  Certainly, a less experienced teacher will feel more vulnerable and might be quick to rise to her own defense.  However, I have found that it happens just as often with experienced teachers.  It's just human nature.  Anyone would feel threatened if their professional competency seemed to be called into question.  I know that, given the right set of circumstances in my own job, I certainly would.

 

Trust me, this works for everything out of the ordinary that you want to ask the huge institutional daycare center/ private preschool to do for you: cloth diapering, no TV/videos, no computers, bringing your own food instead of eating the daycare center's food, etc.

 

Obviously, a discussion like this should not take place during high stress times like drop off time or pickup time.  If I've known the teacher less than two months, I ask the teacher for an appointment at her convenience, so that we can discuss during a less busy time for her. By the time my child has had the teacher more than two months, then I probably have a better idea about which times of the day is less crazy for her, so that I know what time of day would be good to broach the subject so that she is able to give my request the attention I wish.  You do not want to bring your teacher a request like this right at the moment when she has a million other things/children to keep track of.


 

 

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#11 of 11 Old 10-10-2011, 11:34 AM
 
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