June continues! And onward we push through those thirty posts that I’ve been writing every year this month. For the fifth year in a row I’m back to a month of daily blogging: each day a new post on a new topic, but on the same blog-per-day topic as last year, creating another set of Those 30 Posts in June. Today, that post just happens to be about something that I am:
Doing… Incentivizing Summer Fun
As it turns out, Claire is (a little bit) addicted to screens. Big ones. Little ones. Glowing ones. Touchable or watchable. Games. Apps. Netflix or YouTube. And it’s starting to go a little too far.
We’ve been trying to fight her on it (like true rational economist parents) by both disincentivizing her use and incentivizing other non-screen activity. Still, the glowing glass demon is a jealous beast: she’s been sneaking time here and there, bending the rules, and facing the consequences with stoic abandon while she holds out for her next hit.
I’m not huge on the punishment option — at least not as a Plan A. In the long run I neither want to (a) demonize the technology with which she will need to eventually nurture a mutually beneficial and hopefully positive relationship nor (b) administratively control access (read: disable or password protect) which would be both a significant inconvenience for us and would do little to build trust and responsible behaviour. It may yet come to that, but not as Plan A.
Instead, I’m doing something more incentives-based this summer: I’m trying my damnest to provide some adventure, experience and creative opportunity. This means that among some of the more standard fun, we’re also….
1) Creating an Adventure Journal
Last week I brought home a thick, bound journal of lined paper of the kind any hipster might use while sitting in the park and writing poems about beards and craft beers. We’re going to use it to record our adventures this summer. Words and pictures. Things glued and taped to the inside. Colours, images, scribbles, and descriptions. It will be a chronicle of our summer and if it works out maybe even a family tradition spanning many more years and building on a lifetime of recording memories and seeking inspiration through adventure. And you can’t have an adventure while watching yet another episode of Full House on Netflix… so: our book becomes an incentive to get outside and do something.
2) Getting Artsy
I inspired her to think about art and the thought that almost instantly popped into her head was painting. I told her that if she really wanted to try something with art that she could pick a couple projects and I’d buy the supplies and create the experience. She chose landscape watercolour painting… though almost not in those words. It was more like: “Dad we need to get a blank sheet and those paints that you need to get wet and go find some beautiful nature to paint.” Yes: pursuing new skills becomes another incentive to go explore our parks.
3) Learning More About Nature
Thanks to the final science topic of the grade two curriculum, we’ve had a sudden uptake in the interest in bugs this spring. She’s been learning about insects and in her inquiries has been made keenly aware that her father not only shares that interest but actually took enough university level entomology courses that I should have probably declared it as a minor. As it turns out, broadening our scope from just bug to all of the local ecosystem, having a dad that is technically qualified to teach high school biology is going to pay dividends for my daughter this summer whether she likes it or not… Another perk: keeping the momentum on her interest in nature may become another incentive, I hope!
4) Stepping Up Her Photography Education
Readers of this blog are likely aware that (along with real bugs) I’m a bit of a shutterbug, too. With kids it’s always a kind of monkey-see-monkey-do, so it’s not surprising that Claire has shown a kind of passive fascination with taking pictures. Well, as it turns out (having bought a new dSLR last summer) I have an extra camera. And it also turns out that while there are a number of opinions on the topic, there seems to be enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that an alomst-eight-year-old is mature enough to have some supervised lessons with a powerful SLR camera. So, I’m planning some father-daughter photo expeditions and thus: her interst in technology rolls into incentive-land!
Will it work? Time will tell. Patience pending…. I’ll be reporting back over the summer and we’ll see where it all lands: or if we just need to turn off the WiFi after all.