Liberty Christian School Blog

LCS Website Banner

Should my child join a robotics team?

Posted on Jan 16, 2018 12:00:00 PM by Laurel Robinson

You may have been hearing about robotic teams lately, and wondering if it’s a good fit for your child. There are several robotics teams in the area, and they are worth looking into!  

Robotics Blog.png

First, though, consider the cost and the demand on your schedule.  Teams may meet 2-3 times per week, and fees of $100-$300 may be due up front.  If there is not room in your schedule during the school year, look into a summer robotics camp.

A robotics team can start as early as age 6-10, with a lego-based league that is a more gentle introduction to robotics principles. By high school, the teams are still fun, plus hard work, and more oriented toward coding and technology. FIRST calls their Robotics Competition “the ultimate Sport for the Mind,” and quotes its high-school student participants as saying it is “the hardest fun you’ll ever have.” In addition to FIRST leagues and competition, there is also VEX Robotics with its own teams and competition schedule.

At any age, kids who participate in a robotics program can gain a variety of skills from the experience: in addition to analytical thinking, math, and coding, they will inevitably experience trial and error; problem solving, managing time, resolving conflict, working with a team. These are the kind of life skills that kids can only learn by doing.  

6 Ways To Help Your Child Stay In Touch With Friends Over the Summer

Posted on Aug 1, 2017 2:26:31 PM by Laurel Robinson

Now that the kids have had a few weeks to relax and enjoy “doing nothing,” parents might be feeling like it is time to be proactive about finding ways for kids to see their friends over the summer break. 

 6 Ways To Help Your Child Stay In Touch With Friends Over the Summer

There are a variety of reasons to work on this goal:

  • A desire for our kids to maintain relationships that started in school but have not continued into the summer due to schedule conflicts or geographical challenges.
  • A desire for our kids to make NEW friends in addition to the kids they were with every day at school.
  • A desire to keep our kids from getting swallowed up in screens for several hours a day.  

On that last point, most kids will vigorously make the case that  spending time with friends is NOT mutually exclusive with looking at screens. This is true: there is video chatting, texting, online hangouts, and of course, getting together and playing video games.  We may not be able to convince kids that there is more to life than facing a screen, so we will have to help them discover it themselves!  As adults, we know that some of the most valuable times with friends are face to face, and that when we go through a little bit of “boredom,” we can end up being very creative and having a lot of fun!.


The first step is reaching out. Social media is helpful for getting in touch with people.  If you can’t find them online, call a mutual friend to make the connection.  Most parents would be happy to receive an invitation for their child to come and hang out for the day.  It can take a few tries to make contact, and a few tries to find a time that works for everyone, but press on!  If you have never met the parents before, you might want to invite the whole family to meet your family at a local ice cream or snowball stand, so you can all be more comfortable getting in touch (and swapping kids) in the future.

 

Some ideas for ways that kids can spend time with their friends:

Host a party.  Let your kids plan it!  It doesn’t have to be a special occasion, or an expensive event.  Rather than do a lot of cooking, you can host a potluck meal, or an ice cream social, or have an evening party with a bonfire (and s’mores, of course) or glow sticks and popsicles. For older kids, there are “murder mystery” party kits, and you can also find online a kit for hosting your own “escape room” party.


Lawn games.  Water balloons, corn hole, badminton, and croquet are all fairly easy to obtain. Most of them can be played with just two people who would otherwise be hanging around bored. Don’t forget Nerf gun battles!


Board games.  There is an abundance of (sneakily educational) board games available. If you don’t have any, chances are your kids’ friends will!  If you want to buy some but don’t know where to start, check out some mom bloggers’ reviews of board games. Homeschooling blogs may also have some good suggestions. These personal reviews are often helpful because as you read the reviews, you will get a feel for whether it’s your kid’s style of game or not.  If you don’t have board games on hand, get creative: pull out a jigsaw puzzle, or take three easy ones and mix them together to provide a challenge.


Dance party.  Get a few tweens together -- especially girls -- and play some of their favorite songs from your favorite music streaming service, and it will soon turn into a singalong.  Add a twist by playing “freeze dance”-- everyone dances while the music plays, but  freezes when the music stops (at random intervals). Depending on the group, they may soon be playing one song over and over so they can choreograph their own moves to it.


Share a good deal.  Check Groupon, LivingSocial, Certifikid and similar sites for great deals on camps, trampoline parks, plays, or local fairs.  Invite a friend to join your child on one of these. Vacation Bible school or other church-sponsored camps are another great opportunity to invite friends to join your child in some fun.


Make a video.  Rather than simply consuming media, let your kids experience the work and play that goes into creating it!  If your kid and his or her friends are so inclined, give them a camera and let them make videos, just for fun.  From stop-motion videos to tutorials, almost any interest could become inspiration for a video. If you have software and the kids have the interest, the video could even get edited and shared (with your approval, of course).

Don’t let the summer slide by.  Make a phone call or two today, and get some “play dates” on the calendar!

Moderating Screen Time

Posted on Feb 7, 2017 5:00:00 PM by Laurel Robinson

Should I moderate my child’s screen time?  If so, how can I place limits on my child’s screen time?  These are the questions that linger in every parent’s mind as we go through our hectic days.  We see our kids looking at screens, and we may not always have time to look over their shoulders. But we also have the unique role of seeing their hearts and the fruit of what’s going on in their hearts.Screentime 1.png


Why moderate screen time?

 In kids and adults, online activities can affect the way a person’s brain works. If we are constantly getting pop-up notifications, for example, our brains adapt to this norm and it becomes difficult for us to focus on a singular task for very long even when we want to.  We find ourselves interrupting our tasks with unnecessary distractions because that is how we are accustomed to operating. With this in mind, it would be wise for the entire family to set some boundaries on how electronics, email, social media, and games are used--for emotional and spiritual health.  You can even hold one another accountable to the guidelines you set together.

A recent study shows that a reasonable amount of screen time can actually be healthy for teens.  Researchers in the UK analyzed data that measured the screen time and well-being of just over 120,000 15-year-olds. They found that there was no direct link between screen time and well-being, but that those who used electronics more than a certain amount did experience decreased well-being. To be specific, on average, the teens' well-being peaked at “about 1 hours and 40 minutes of video-game play, about 1 hour 57 minutes of smartphone use, about 3 hours and 41 minutes of watching videos, and about 4 hours and 17 minutes of using computers.”  Any more than that, and the numbers trended toward unhappiness.

There are no magic (or even scientific) formulas to use, for your child is unique and wonderfully made by God. Beyond statistics, the bottom line is that as parents, you know your child’s heart and habits. You are in a position to observe whether screen time is making your child happy or sad, fulfilled or frustrated. There are so many factors to consider and ultimately, you want to encourage activities that enrich their life,and steer them away from those things that spawn dissatisfaction.


Avoiding negative screen time

If you identify a form of “screen time” that seems to be detrimental for your child (e.g., social media that leads to feeling left out, or a video game causing frustration), talk to them about it; help your child form their own conclusions about how to avoid it. Try to frame it in a positive, self-care context. This will be good for them now and in the future. If your child doesn’t choose to avoid it, you have the authority to place limits on their interaction with it. Or you can offer substitute forms of social interaction,entertainment, or whatever they are getting out of it.


Moderating positive screen time.

For any form of “screen time” that seems to make your child happy (e.g., chatting with good friends or building in Minecraft), it is still wise to encourage a time limit. Some clear-cut ways to set limits on screen time include the following:

  • Allow “unlimited” screen time, but only after homework and chores are done.
  • Allow screen time only on weekends.
  • Allow only 30 minutes of screen time after school, as a little break before homework.
  • Allow screen time only when you are present to supervise or be involved.
  • Allow as much screen time as your child “earns” by doing specific chores with specific values set for each chore.

During any allotted screen time, you will still want to be sure that your child spends it on something that is edifying for them!


Limiting Websites.

If your child has access to the internet, consider using an app that can help you supervise what your child is doing online. Covenant Eyes and Disney Circle are two examples of products that you can use to filter and/or review what your child sees online. One mother told me recently that her daughter comes to her with questions instead of Googling things because she knows her Mom sees every site she visits. This has led to good conversations and more engagement that they may not have had. Now that’s a win-win!

Screentime 2.jpg

How to Raise a Responsible Digital Citizen

Posted on Dec 15, 2015 3:00:00 PM by Kim Schlauch

digital citizens

Like it or not, in today’s world, the internet and social media have become a way of life for adults and children alike.  As a result,  just as it is important to teach our children how to be good citizens in their physical community, it is imperative that we raise responsible digital citizens as well.  

According to the Digital Citizenship Institute, digital citizenship refers to the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use, and a responsible digital citizen is one who knows what is right and wrong, exhibits intelligent technology behavior, and makes good choices when using technology.

Here are 5 ways you can raise a responsible digital citizen:

Stay Engaged

Surf the internet with your children or pay attention to which websites or online communities they visit as well as the social media platforms in which they participate.  Be a positive influence by reacting in a constructive manner when they encounter or engage in inappropriate content.

mom and child on computer

Teach Them to Be Critical Thinkers

Help your child navigate the internet by working together to identify safe, credible sites.  Identify examples of pages or icons they should be cautious about clicking on or downloading and explain the implications of such actions so they know how and why to avoid them in the future.

Help Them to Play Safe

Help your children to understand the public nature of the internet and how to interact safely with those they might interact with online.  Make sure they understand that any information they share, such as content, photos, and texts, can be shared or copied and therefore available to potentially anyone.

Encourage Them to Be Kind To Others

Teach your children to mind their online manners.   Encourage them to practice treating others with the same respect online as they would in person.  This includes not posting or sharing anything about others that might be hurtful, mean or embarrassing.

Show Them How to Leave a Positive Footprint

In today’s world, developing a positive digital footprint, or online presence, is a must.  Encourage your children to think carefully about what they are posting on social media sites and publishing on the web.  Help them to understand what is appropriate and what is not.  Maintaining a positive digital footprint can help keep your child out of trouble with the law as well as make a good impression on friends, teachers and future bosses.

In addition to these suggestions, the best way to raise a responsible digital citizen is to set a good example by becoming one yourself.

New Call-to-action