Hello Forest Friends!

We are starting a new curriculum on technology! We’ve been talking as staff a lot about our frustrations, gratitude, anxiety, and other Big Feelings about Zoom and our school interactions all being mediated now through tech. And now we want to do some activities and have some conversations that address these feelings and conundrums head on!
Personally, I feel my anxiety tick up on Zoom; everything feels a little more awkward, reactions are a second delayed, and suddenly everyone can see where I live. I know from talking to families that other anxieties around screen time, overstimulation, fragile technology, and parental presence can come out. If any of these rings particularly true, or there are other big feelings on the parenting side of tech, please let me know! We are planning to direct some stuff towards parents as well as kids as we explore social-emotional learning and tech together.
Digital interaction might never work for everyone; it can be anxiety-inducing and for some of us, too much a reminder of the classroom togetherness we’re missing. But I am hoping we can explore our feelings about it together, and explore how we interact with the tech itself, rather than expecting it to be a perfect seamless substitute for school.
As Teacher Charlie reminded us so beautifully on a Zoom meeting last week, at school we don’t introduce new tools to kids by expecting them to immediately understand the social norms and mechanics involved; we let kids explore and experiment with new tools on their own terms.
So for today’s activity: hand Zoom over to your kiddo. Maybe plan a low stakes Zoom hang out with a friend or family member, and tell them beforehand that your kiddo is in going to be in charge (and that they might expect a little chaos). And before the zoom playdate, give them some time to explore the medium before the social interaction is brought in.
With whatever device you’re using, show them where the volume controls are and let them play around with the different tools and buttons. This is also a good moment to communicate with them with your own feelings around tech, and set any boundaries clearly that you have, ie gentle hands, with using these devices.
On the call itself, encourage your kid to try muting themself, yelling something, unmuting, and checking with their friend what they heard. The idea of muting yourself is frankly really alien to social interaction as we knew it, and your kid might have some doubts about it.
Alternatively, if this feels like jumping into too much with Zoom, especially if it is too much a stressor for your child, choose a video from teachers, maybe a read-aloud or song video from the past two months that your kid enjoyed, and let them hold the device and practice muting, raising and lowering volume, and pausing and playing.
Again, please reach out if there are particular issues or feelings we can address with this curriculum! I would love to hear how you and your kids feel about Zoom and educational tech, all the positive and negatives.
Much love,
Teacher Madeleine