This week I shared "5 Ideas for Connecting with your 21st Century Child this Summer" at VolunteerSpot. The purpose of the site is to make coordinating volunteers easy with free online sign up sheets and scheduling software. They celebrate local heroes – volunteers, teachers, parents – making a difference in our schools and communities.
Below is what I shared.
When it comes to tried and true advice for parents (young and old), most will agree in the importance of face time, throwing a ball, playing a sport, listening deeply and all those good things that great parents have been doing for centuries. In the 21st century though there are some new and important ways for parents to connect with their kids and there's no time like the summer to begin thinking about and implementing some of them. Each idea has a pledge, and some helpful resources. Parents and kids can try one or some of them and see how they can build and strengthen relationships this summer and beyond.
1. Communicate in Online Environments
Pledge: I will communicate with you in your environments even if it's only you for whom I am joining these environments.
- Today's kids are operating in online environments and parents should play a part. Whether they admit it or not, your children want to know you're around and that when you are, you follow similar guidelines to those in the physical world. For instance, if you are a parent chaperoning students at an event or watching over them during a party, you serve an important role. They know you're there, will keep them safe, and yes, occasionally do something they consider dorky or embarrassing.
- Many kids communicate on discussion boards, cafes, blogs, etc. You should know what they're saying. This is no different from when kids used to talk on the living room phone in your presence. They may be a participant or creator of these online forums. Show interest. Participate when it makes sense.
Remember, online environments are important to your children. They want you to be proud of them in virtual worlds just like they do in physical worlds.
2. Utilize Online Environment to Connect with Passions
Pledge: I will help you discover your dreams and talk to you about ways to best realize them. I will always support you in realizing your talents and pursuing your passions.
- Help your children use online media to discover their passions. What are they interested in? Skateboarding? Broadway? Animals? Environment? Help them find blogs, magazines, discussion boards about these topics and read about and join the conversation. Support them in building their personal learning networks in areas of talent, passion, and interest. These articles provide some ideas for how to do so.
3. Play Games to Get Smarter, Develop Leaders, and Get Fit
Pledge: I will not dismiss the games you play. I will spend time talking to you and trying to understand why you do what you do. I will work with you to look for and find games that we can play together to grow smarter or more fit.
- Get smarter and develop leaders
Many educational pioneers are harnessing the power of games to connect with, motivate, and engage learners in ways never before possible. Games like Rise of Nations tell players that, "The power of mankind is in your hands." That's certainly more interesting than read the chapter and answer questions at the end. Educators like Peggy Sheehy are using World of Warcraft with students to develop leadership skills and more. Future Cities is helping aspiring engineers and architects with simulation games like Sim City. Marc Prensky has written the book, "Don't Bother Me Mom, I'm Learning" and answered some frequently asked questions here.
- Get fit
For many parents going outside to throw a ball or ride a bike is a great idea, but work schedules just don't permit. If you can’t make it home during the day, Wii Fit is a great alternative to a family night of play, connecting, and exercise.
4. Go Places
Pledge: I will explore my neighborhood and beyond. Together we will learn new things and set off on new adventures.
- Go Walking (real walking!)
- Walk Score is a great site that let's you rate the walkability of various neighborhoods. Find a neighborhood in your area and take a walk. Take pictures of the places you visit and create an online photo album with captions about what you enjoyed at each place.
- Go Geocaching
- Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment. Also see this Geocaching education site.
5. Know When to Disconnect to Connect
Pledge: I will be present and disconnect from things that don't involve spending time with my children when we have planned to spend time together.
Disconnecting to connect does not mean disconnecting from technology.
Some parents today blame technology their kids are using as a reason they are having less quality time, but often little attention is focused on the effect on kids and the risks of parenting while plugged in. Furthermore, let's not scapegoat technology as the cause or distraction. Today and yesterday's Dads and Moms can let more traditional distractions get in the way of spending quality time with their children. Face time with children is often interrupted to answer the phone, to shush kids while you're watching TV or reading a paper, magazine, or book, to escape in another part of the house to work on a project, etc. Disconnecting doesn't mean disconnecting from technology. It means connecting with those things you can do with your children, some of it may be using technology, some of it may not be, but it is doing things together with the purpose of spending time with your children, connecting with them, developing relationships and engaging with them in their worlds whether those are physical or digital.Read more: 5 Ways to Connect with your Children through Technology - Online Sign Up Blog by VolunteerSpot http://blog.volunteerspot.com/volunteer_guru/2011/07/5-ways-to-connect-with-your-children-through-technology.html#ixzz2IGo4EFuG
Check out the original post here to find out more about each idea.