how much time should a child spend in front of a computer?
Way back in December, a brochure made its way into my house advertising a summer kids’ camp at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Monkey read it hungrily and announced that he really wanted to take a computer programming class.
I heard him but I left the information on the back burner.
On a very low simmer.
Because I didn’t want Monkey to spend two weeks inside with eleventy-zillion computer screens. Lord knows our summers in New York State are short enough as it is. So I didn’t really jump on it.
But Monkey was relentless.
(I don’t know where he gets it.)
After weeks of daily questioning, he wore me down and I signed him up so for the desired two-week session. For two weeks, five hours a day, my child sat in a college classroom learning how to use Adobe Flash to create a computer video game.
And he loved every minute of it.
In the car on the way home each afternoon, he talked (mostly to himself) about “code” and “servers” and “syntax errors” and “unnecessary right braces before end of program” and other things I did not understand.
On the first day of the second week Monkey said: “You don’t have to walk me in.”
I looked at my 11-year-old son. He assured me I could just drop him off at the curb, that he knew just where to go “on-campus.” He unbuckled his seatbelt and kissed me on my nose, an old ritual since his pre-school days.
I let him go.
I wasn’t worried about him, but I didn’t drive away so quickly. For some reason, the moment felt kind of monumental. I watched my son’s slim body move further and further away from me until he was so far up the path that I almost couldn’t differentiate him from another student. Eventually, Monkey (or maybe it was the other kid) opened one of the two heavy doors to the brick and glass Tom Golisano Building for Computing and Information Science and disappeared without even looking back.
I imagined my son graduating from high school and heading off to college in five years time. And never looking back.
Later that week Monkey asked me if he had to finish middle and high school or if he could just skip ahead to college.
(This from a child who still doesn’t know how to properly use a comma.)
I, of course popped into teacher mode. I explained to him that, while he might excel in computer technology, he still needs to learn about literature and history, to continue to work on his writing and language skills – because otherwise there would be holes in his educational fabric.
“Right now, school is helping to weave a tapestry in your brain,” I said. “But that tapestry is only partially created. If you stop going to school or skip the subjects that don’t appeal to you, it would be like enormous moths attacked the tapestry and chewed giant holes into it.”
Monkey was quiet so I kept going. “You need a know a lot of different types of knowledge before you go to college. And you are going to need to understand how those types of knowledge are interconnected…”
Monkey interrupted. “Mom, I’m kidding!” He patted my hand in mock reassurance. “Don’t be so serious.”
I know it’s a parent’s job to give a child roots and wings. And Monkey has got ’em.
I just didn’t think he would want to fly off so fast.
If your child wanted to pursue year-round school academics, would you encourage him/her to do so? Or do you feel taking time off to relax during the summer is important?