Dr. Jean Clinton is a pediatric psychiatrist and advisor to the Ontario Minister of Education. Yesterday she spent two hours at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium, speaking with parents, educators and community members interested in the well-being of children in our communities.
How are the children doing? Is this the major concern and question that it should be in our country? Are we making our children (our future) our priority?
Her message centred around the importance of relationships in raising healthy, creative, curious and learning children.
Children learn through serve and return, serve and return. They initiate, adults respond, they respond…
How do we become conversational partners in this back and forth?
How are we responding to the cues from children? How are children learning from our language, our facial expressions, our interest in them, our engagement with them?
Caring adult relationships and connections are critical. So how do we spend our time with our kids?
Do we spend it “almost with them” while we do other things on our phones?
What is our connecting to redirecting ratio? How much time is just “being with” vs. “directing and redirecting”?
Talk more, tune in, listen and turn off the TV!
While I was there to hear all of her message, I was particularly interested in her take on technology in schools. Here are my notes on Dr. Jean Clinton’s response to a question about the use of technology in JK/SK and the remainder of the primary division.
“The use of technology in schools is tricky. We know that we need people who are going to be skilled in technological ability and the best time to start that is, well, we know we can start the concepts of coding very early. But we have technology now not just as a tool but as an interference. We are going to need some courageous work, where parents are told not to text their children during the school day, and to trust the system to get in touch because the majority of texts that kids are getting in class are from their parents.
But I think we need to take a stand and understand how very important technology is, but also how we are going to limit its use in the classroom. For example, I am not a supporter of using iPads in the earliest years. The development of the brain and how the kids are making connections, they get mesmerized and pulled towards those iPads and it should be later, once the brain has developed further, that they should be allowed to do it. It’s a tough question.”
We know that being outside and experiencing the natural world builds brains differently. We know that schoolifying, ranking and comparing children can result in stress reactions. And we know that stress changes biology.
Our kindergarten curriculum rests on inquiry-based learning. Is this what is happening in kindergarten classrooms?
We have to consider the research on brain development before advocating for the use of screens in the early years.
I know that I have much more learning to do on this topic.
Thank you to Dr. Jean Clinton for travelling to northwestern Ontario, and for sharing so much important information with our communities about how building those personal interactions with children is absolutely critical to their positive growth and development.
Dr. Jean Clinton: http://drjeanclinton.com/