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Focus on Back to School Routines

Formulas and Tables can't compete with SnapchatIt’s back to school time, and for most parents, that means re-establishing routines. Around bed times, around getting homework done, around outside play, around proper nutrition, around limiting screen time… It can seem overwhelming. So many things to consider!

One thing I’ve found is that having clear rules helps – as long as they are simple, and as long as there are not too many of them! As a digital educator, there are two aspects I’d focus on: Screen time, and what to encourage the child to “do online.”

Talking to parents, you’ll find limiting screen time during the school week is the norm in most households. Left to their own preferences, most children and young people will allow themselves to be dragged into the vortex that is YouTube, and (if they are older) social media platforms like Snap Chat or Facebook Messenger. Bit like our age group and Facebook and / or Twitter, I guess…

And many have found that too much screen time doesn’t only eat up a lot of hours, but also leads to bad tempers, lack of focus, and lower energy. Not a great recipe for happy family life!

It depends on the child and on what they do with the time they have online, but twenty minutes a day for younger children, rising to about an hour as they progress into secondary school, would seem a reasonable amount during the week.

In our house, extra time could be earned by doing touch-typing exercises ( is a fantastic website for self-study): 10 minutes typing would get our son 20 min extra screen time. He’s a fantastic typist now, very fast and accurate. 😀 I’ll dedicate a future article to keyboard skills, they are very dear to my heart. (That’s a very old-fashioned way of saying it, isn’t it?)

Keep that mind from straying!

Focus matters, too. Do you know people who always seem to be aware of their phone, constantly checking for email or Facebook notifications? I know some teenagers like that, too, not just adults (though for them it might be Snapchat or Instagram rather than Facebook). If you know some who seem to always have their smartphone within view, it might be worth sharing the following facts with them:

  • Once the mind is on something completely different, it takes on average 23 minutes to get back to full focus.
  • As much as half of all interruptions are self-generated: Checking if there’s a new message, update, snapchat…
  • Even having a smartphone in the room makes it hard to not check for new messages, updates, snapchats.
  • You’re most productive if you limit access to the web to specific times, and focus on what you are doing at the time.

These findings are based on a study carried out by Gloria Mark, Professor in the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine. She was looking at the work of professionals, but the basic principles apply to everyone who needs to get focused work done. And that includes homework!

So for our teenagers … putting the phone in a different room when doing homework or studying could mean that the dreaded essay / research / maths problem gets done much faster and better. Leaving more time for other pursuits! Like a walk along the beautiful Skerries coast… or exchanging a few snaps with friends. Either way, it’d be time off well earned, and all for the price of leaving the phone out of sight, out of mind!

Back to School for cccSkerries! Join us now!

All weekly cccSkerries classes resume during the week starting Monday 4 September 2017.

Currently, as of 25 August 2017, there are spaces in the following groups:

The 2017/18 year will have 3 terms of 10 weeks each. We have simplified our pricing and are now offering free laptop rental in all groups! No need to haul that laptop around any more (unless participants really want to, of course). Typing classes are €50 per term, all other classes €100.

Small groups (max. 6 participants). Individual attention. Based in Kelly’s Bay, taught by Sabine McKenna, fully qualified and Garda-vetted primary teacher.

Times don’t suit? Too far away from Skerries? My pilot online course Introduction to Coding using Scratch for 8-10 year-olds will be starting soon. Sign up here to be notified when booking opens! Sabine