Over the summer we received a letter from my future kindergartner’s school saying ALL kindergartener would be using iPads as part of the regular school day. These “device days” would take place throughout the school year and kids would be encouraged to bring their own tablet from home. They even had an acronym for it: BYOD – Bring Your Own Device.
My acronym for BYOD was WTF, but I calmed down a bit and settled on OMG.
Why would my kindergartner need to take an iPad to school? All I see her use it for at home is watching YouTube videos of other people opening toys (the pros call it unboxing … have you seen this nonsense?) or watching other kids and creepy adults act out scenes with Barbie dolls. To say I was skeptical with the whole BYOD thing would be a definite understatement.
Just last year my son was a kindergartener at the very same school. There was no talk of device days. There was no need for kids to take devices to school. They sounded out letters together as a class, they looked through books together, they learned just like every other kid on the damn planet has learned to read since the beginning of time … all without the help of an iPad.
I emailed the principal and told her I didn’t think my daughter needed screens every day and I sure as hell didn’t think my daughter needed to bring an iPad to school every day. She understood my frustration. She also informed me, “This was the direction the district was taking.” I could tell this wasn’t the first time she’d had to use that line with a parent.
She gave me a bit of hope that this was something that would be beneficial for the kids. And, at the end of the day, I guess it doesn’t really matter what I think about it. If helps my kid learn then that’s what’s most important.
At the beginning of the school year, the administration sent a reassurance letter to parents talking about when devices would be used, what they would be used for (and not used for), etc. We were given printouts of apps we could download, apps they would be using in the classroom, usernames, and passwords for these apps.
Usernames and passwords. Ugh. It kind of felt like they were turning my 5-year-old into an adult. Man, do I fear for the future of a generation that has to start memorizing usernames and passwords at the age of 5.
But, I must say, after only a month into the school year, her reading has improved tremendously. We still work with her at home quite bit, the old-fashioned way, using books. (Books are things that have covers, spines and pages you touch. They also don’t have to be plugged in or charged ahead of time.)
Apps may not be my favorite learn-to-read method, but my daughter is really excited about them. Our kids receive screen time on the weekends at home and recently our daughter has asked to use her reading apps on the weekends instead of watching those toy videos on YouTube. So I guess that’s a bonus.
Overall, my feelings about devices are pretty mixed. On one hand, it’s working. I should be happy about it. But on the other hand, there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with the old way either. I guess it’s just the start of me, now that I’m 40, being an old curmudgeon that talks about the “good ol’ days”.
Next, I’ll start talking about the days of having to look up books. In the library. Using a card catalog.
Anyway, I suppose that’s another post for another time.
A version of this first appeared on Indy’s Child.