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Welcome to our SpringSpot blog! 

We focus on family wellbeing, and offer kids enrichment programs and camps which incorporate social emotional learning, movement, and fun!  We also provide exercise programs for adults and kids to help you and your family thrive together. 

 

Enjoy and start enriching your body and mind today.   



With distance learning and more time being spent at home, parents are wondering if kids are spending too much time in front of the screen. Research is starting to show that it is more about what is on the screen and how we interact with content rather than how much time we spend on it. This doesn’t mean you can be on your screen all day, but maybe we should focus on what our children are doing on their screens rather than how much time they are spending on them.


Active vs Passive Screen Time

Is scrolling through an Instagram feed the same thing as having FaceTime with a grandparent? Is taking an exercise class online the same thing as watching a TV show? Researchers are starting to break down screen time into two types: Active and Passive.


In a recent review, researchers found that screen time like watching TV and playing certain video games had a negative impact on academic performance but playing active (exercise) video games and using social interaction apps (FaceTime) did not impact academic performance the same way. So what is active and passive screen time?

  • Active screen time is when your child is engaging either mentally or physically with the content on the screen. This could be recording a video of themselves or dancing along with a video. They can be talking online to their teacher as they follow along on a task. This requires some level of engagement with the content that is being presented to them.


  • Passive screen time is more mindless, effortless time spent on the screen. This is when we scroll through our Instagram feed or quietly watch TV. Video games like CandyCrush where it’s more repetitive motions than strategy or problem solving. You are sedentary, not physically active. You don’t need to think about what you are doing as you are doing it.


  • Passive is best in moderation, passive can become active. Watching a TV show isn’t always bad, it’s when we binge that it turns negative. Scrolling on Instagram quietly is passive but turning to your partner and asking what they think of the picture just made that screen time active. Watching a cooking show is passive, taking an online cooking class is active. As a parent, you can regulate the type of screen time and even turn passive screen time into active screen time!


What Can A Parent Do About Screen Time?

In 2015 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) gathered experts from various fields to discuss children growing up in a digital world. Overarching themes of that conference showed that content mattered and how parents role-modeled/regulated their digital use was important too. Here are a few things you can do at home with your child’s screen time:

  • Role-model technology use and set clear boundaries. Show kids how to manage online time by creating offline time yourself. Have clear times when technology is ok and times when the screens are off. Screen time shouldn’t be a babysitter, reward or punishment. Create a plan around screen time that works for your family. Remember, passive screen time is part of our modern world, so show them the time and place for it!


  • Content matters, mix it up! Encourage more active screen time than passive screen time. Have content where kids get up and move, or content that encourages them to create something. Get content that is culturally diverse too, the online world should represent the real world!


  • Turn off before bedtime. Have a routine where screen time is off before bedtime to avoid the negative consequences of screen time. The blue light from your digital screen impacts your sleep cycle and makes it hard to unwind. Screen time impacts the reward center of the brain which is why it can be hard to get kids off the screen. Setting a routine provides clear expectations and turning off before dark helps the body unwind.


  • Don’t just monitor, interact with your child too! Maybe you watch a movie together and talk about it. Or play a game that requires strategy with two people. Remember, it’s not just what is on the screen but how we engage with the screen too. Show them the online etiquette and behavior you expect out of them by navigating the online world together!


  • Offline doesn’t have to compete with online. Both online and offline can reinforce each other. We did things before the internet! If your child loves Minecraft, have blocks around the house for offline time. Do they just love Paw Patrol? Have stuffed animals around the house they can turn into characters from their favorite shows. But remember, offline doesn’t have to be the same as online. We can’t recreate the Pokemon world but we can wonder about dragons and come up with our own super powers!


As we move forward in the digital world, more research is still needed on what is the best way to use screen time at young ages. You can refer to the AAP guidelines and speak with your pediatrician about screen time if you’re concerned. Screen time, active or passive, doesn’t replace real time interactions or going outside. However, as research grows, parents can shift their mindset; it’s beneficial to look at WHAT your child is doing on their screen so you can worry less about HOW LONG they are spending on it.


If you're looking for active screen time options for your child, learn more about our after-school online Kids Wellness Camps or take an online exercise class together!



Cheers,


Diane




As we head into the new school year and adjust to the reality of distance learning, we are all experiencing new challenges and fears. As a teacher, I have made huge adjustments to ensure that I am meeting all of my students’ needs. I know that you as parents are feeling the same; searching for the best way to support your child during distance learning and keep yourself healthy and sane. 


Here are some tips and tricks to make distance learning a bit more palatable for you and your child throughout the year:  


Set up an open workspace for your child

One of the hardest things to adjust to is the fact that children are learning at home. Children are used to learning in a school environment. They are used to being in a classroom, with their peers modeling the classroom behavior, and a teacher guiding them throughout the day. Now, they don’t have that physical separation between school and home. This is why setting up a workspace for your child is crucial. When setting up the workspace, keep the following in mind:

  • Setup your child with good ergonomics..  This means their table and chair are at the correct height, their feet are touching the ground and they are not hunched over.  Their device is at eye level. 

  • Materials accessible.  Be sure all necessary materials are accessible at their workspace. This includes pencils, pens, erasers, blank sheets of paper, and anything else they may need for their lessons.

  • Water bottle. Have your child place their water bottle by their desk and have them fill it throughout the day. 

  • Add personality.  Let them decorate their workspace and provide stress relievers such as silly putty or stress balls to keep their hands busy.

  • Break times. Encourage your child to leave their workspace in between lessons and when the day is over. 


Take time before class to go over Zoom rules and techniques

Help your child start class with confidence by getting them acquainted with Zoom or Google Meet before class starts. Some Zoom techniques and rules that are especially helpful are:

  • Show your child how to mute and unmute.

  • Remind them to raise their hand if they have something to say. (Zoom even has hand emojis they can use!)

  • Make sure they know to stay at the computer or device and keep their video on.

  • Remind them to always show respect to the teacher and other students by staying quiet while others talk.


Create a daily schedule that makes sense for you and your family

Another challenge you may be facing with distance learning is finding a consistent and balanced routine. You might be working from home and juggling a lot of different schedules. For some, scheduling out your day may seem nearly impossible. However, I strongly encourage you to find a schedule for your child that works best for you and your family and here is why: 

  • Children thrive off of consistency. It helps them feel secure and understand expectations.

  • Children are used to following a daily schedule at school. This helps them stay engaged in their lessons and focused on their work.

  • Schedules benefit your child’s emotional, cognitive and social growth.


Find time in the day to step away from the computer

Along with creating your daily schedule, be sure to schedule time to have your child (and you) step away from the computer. Even if it’s just for fifteen minutes, children need a chance to take a break and move their body! Here are some ideas for what they can do:

  • Go for a walk outside.

  • Put on some music and have a dance party!

  • Take part in a family exercise challenge. Encourage each other to do 100 pushups and see who can finish first!

  • Watch one of SpringSpot’s wellness videos. Here, children can stretch and move their body, find their calm, and go on an adventure!


Find opportunities to connect

Set aside time in the day for your child to step away from school and connect with themselves and others. Encourage your child to get all of their work done before 4pm so that they can focus on spending time alone or socializing with their peers. Here are a few ideas for after school:

  • Spend time as a family to connect and talk about your day. Check out the list of questions that go beyond, “how was your day?” our Members page under Parent Resources. 

  • Read a book or learn something new like making friendship bracelets. 

  • Check out our Online Fall Camp! At camp, children get a chance to be creative, move their bodies, and socialize with their peers.


Be kind to yourself

You’re doing the best you can. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your child’s teacher or peers. We are all adjusting to this new normal and deserve to give ourselves and each other a little grace.



Sincerely,

Teacher Sarah



Updated: Sep 16




What is Social Emotional Learning?

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) has been a hot topic at schools for the past few years but what is SEL and how can parents foster this at home? SEL broadly refers to how a person:

  • Regulates their emotions

  • Communicates with others

  • Uses compassion and empathy to understand the needs of other people

  • Builds relationships and

  • Makes good decisions


One of the most widely referred to frameworks for SEL is CASEL 5 which breaks down five important competencies that make up emotional intelligence. These 5 competencies are: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision Making. Within these 5 competencies we can work on social emotional skills that impact our overall emotional intelligence.


Why are Social Emotional Skills Important?

In a widely cited 2011 career builder survey, 71% of employers valued emotional intelligence (EQ) in an employee over IQ.

People with high EQ are more likely to:

  • Stay calm under pressure

  • Effectively resolve conflict resolution

  • Be empathetic towards peers

  • Take criticism well

  • Make more thoughtful business decisions

Although we want our children to do well in school, overall wellness should also include building up social emotional skills. These are skills that will help them in their future careers and relationships.


Sounds like a lot, but don’t worry, building up social emotional skills doesn’t require as much as you think! Here are some simple activities you can do at home to build up those skills:


Watch a movie together and talk about the characters. As a character is going through something in the movie, ask your child how they might feel if that happened to them or how they think the character is feeling. This is a great way to practice empathy and perspective taking. Pick any character in the movie or show (book too!) you are watching and see where the conversation takes you!

Skills targeted: Perspective-Taking, Empathy


Just start chatting and ask your child questions. For example, ask what their favorite foods are right now. What 3 items would you bring if you were stuck on a deserted island? What is your favorite animal? Of course as a parent you probably already know these things, but give your child time to talk and explain for themselves. You’ll help build their own self-awareness and give an opportunity to role-model turn taking and conversation skills. With less opportunity for kids to socialize these days, having a conversation where you give them your attention can have a huge impact on them. You may end up learning something new about your child you didn’t know!

Skills targeted: Self-Awareness, Conversation Skills


Practice mindfulness anywhere, anytime with mindfulness 5-4-3-2-1. This can be a fun thing you do on a walk or if your child is bored at the store. This is also a great way to calm down when you need some space! When your child is upset you can tell them that you notice they are upset and might need some space so they can calm down. Have them go to an area and find 5 things they can see, 4 things they can touch, 3 things they can hear, 2 things they can smell and 1 emotion they feel (you can replace this with 1 thing they can taste if it applies). This is a fun way to avoid a power struggle and allows time to cool off so when they come back with the answers you can talk about what was upsetting them. It’s also just a great way to be mindful in the moment wherever you might be!

Skills targeted: Mindfulness, Coping Skills, Self-Regulation, Observation


Have fun acting out playing charades as a fun family activity. You can act out different things, trying to guess what someone is doing or act out different emotions and try to guess those! For example, you can have a character taking out the trash and grossed out by the smell. Help build their ability to label and identify emotions through games. It’s also a fun way to just get silly and be creative as a family with no prep or materials required!

Skills targeted: Emotional Identification, Observation


It’s not a chore, it’s a house contribution. Making small changes in your dialogue can make a huge impact down the line when teaching children things like responsibility and organization. You can call picking up your clothes a chore because of the mess it makes. Or, picking up your clothes is a house contribution, showing that you care about your things by not leaving them around on the floor. It also shows that you are a family, the clothes on the floor might not bother you, but how does it make your dad feel seeing them there? Encourage your child to think of others when talking about personal responsibility and helping out around the house.

Skills targeted: Responsibility, Organization


Role-model positive self-talk when you are stressed out. A good way to show your child how to cool down is to role model positive self-talk out loud when you are having a stressful moment or day. For example, if you are running late in the morning and are rushing around you might say out loud “I’m running behind this morning, but things will smooth out. First, I'll get breakfast done, then focus on my work email that needs to go out.” This article from Psychology Today highlights when you can manage your emotions with positive self-talk, you can impact how your child manages their emotions. It sounds silly, and might be awkward at first, but children learn their self-talk from what they see and hear you do!

Skills targeted: Self-Talk, Emotional Regulation, Coping Skills


Incorporating these activities into your routine is a great way to build up social emotional skills at home. For a more regular practice with these skills check out our SpringSpot Kids Camps where we integrate SEL in every class! We even offer at home activities, like Dinner Time Discussions so you can keep working on those social emotional skills throughout the day. Keep an eye out for more blogs on Social Emotional Learning, including how to avoid a power struggle!


Cheers,


Diane


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