Craig Allen Always Learning

There is an intense debate going on about how much screen time children should be exposed to since the mass adoption of mobile devices like iPads and other tablets. There are people on both ends of the spectrum and others are somewhere in between. I know parents who won’t let their children watch TV or use electronics until a certain age, while some let them use it before they can talk and walk. If you don’t believe me, look up “baby using iPad” on YouTube.

I think the question of whether it’s right/wrong or good/bad is the wrong thing to focus on. The question we should be asking is if it is useful and beneficial to our children because the answer shifts the conversation to something more helpful.

There’s no question we live in a society immersed in technology, electronic and otherwise. It is so embedded in our lives, we don’t even realize how much and how often we rely on it for our survival. Therefore, our kids will be exposed to it in some form whether we like it or not. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, it’s only a matter of time before they will be using it at home or in school, and eventually their job. So the only question we really need to ask is how we will prepare them to live in a world dependent on technology.

One app I recently began using my with my kids is Duolingo, a free language app. Lydia wanted to learn Italian so we started a private club in the app which automatically posts our progress, then allows us to comment on those notifications. It’s been a great opportunity to model positive online interactions using encouraging comments and emojis while also explaining the meaning of some phrases she doesn’t know yet. Evelyn recently joined as well, and I’m excited to have this channel of communication with them during the day as they learn. One of the best things I can do for my kids is to model a lifestyle of curiosity and be open to learning new things.

Because we are actively involved in our children’s lives, including their education, we feel it’s appropriate to give them access to technology that will assist and possibly even accelerate their learning. It also gives them access to teachers who have knowledge we simply cannot possibly possess. They can learn almost any language because it exists right at their fingertips. That is one of the key reasons we homeschool our children; not just to be involved in their learning, but to be participants as well. By showing them we are never too old to learn something new, we are teaching them that learning is a lifelong pursuit which can happen anywhere and anytime.

Inspiration for this post: The Problem Is Wasted Time, Not Screen Time

Wendell Berry
/ August 17, 2017 / Comments Off on Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

*found in Nick Offerman’s “Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop”

My Grandfather and his great grandkids
/ August 7, 2017 / Comments Off on Not In Love Anymore?

Not In Love Anymore?

[pictured above is my Grandfather and 12 of his great-grandchildren.]

Last weekend I was watching “The Notebook” on TV.

By myself.

My oldest daughter (known for saying whatever is on her mind at all times) walked into the room, noticed what I was watching, and commented, “Why are you watching this kind of movie? You’re not in love anymore!”

What she meant, as she continued to explain, was that Aileen and I were already married, therefore I had no reason to watch a romantic movie. I reassured her I was in fact very much still in love!

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/ July 31, 2017 / Comments Off on Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

She is smart. She is strong. She is compassionate. She is brave.

She works tirelessly during the day, taking care of our four rambunctious children. She gets up in the middle of the night to feed the baby. She has changed countless diapers, washed millions of dishes, and even fixes clogged drains and changes light bulbs.

She watches dance performances. She reads books. She braids hair and ties shoes. She prepares meals and feeds the little ones. She kisses boo-boos and puts on band-aids. She sings to them and plays peek-a-boo. She bathes them, brushes their teeth, and puts them to bed.

She is a shoulder to cry on. She gets squeezed, scratched, and bitten.

She rocks the baby and holds her for hours until she’s asleep for the night. Then she starts all over five minutes later.

She posses a love of animals and all living things and passes it on. She is a scientist with an endless appetite for knowledge. She spends her days teaching her children, answering an endless string of questions and encouraging even more. She teaches math, biology, grammar, astronomy, history, reading, writing, politics, languages and countless other things. She has taught our children how to crawl, walk, and run. She keeps everyone safe.

She researches, plans, and organizes activities. She takes pictures and shares them proudly with her family.

She takes an interest in others and asks questions. She loves talking about things she is passionate about, especially her family. She listens, she laughs, and she cries.

She stays up late preparing for tomorrow to do it all again, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

She does a thousand other things I can’t remember…or don’t even know about.

She would say she is not perfect but she’s perfect for me.

She is a wonderful woman, and she is my best friend and wife.

Tools in toolshed
/ July 27, 2017 / Comments Off on Making Things out of Wood

Making Things out of Wood

A few nights ago, I had a great conversation while catching up with an old friend. We started out talking about normal things like how our kids were doing and how things were going at our respective jobs but eventually turned to deeper things. Something I shared was how I was starting a new hobby of woodworking, thanks to the help of another friend.

I have a limited amount of experience on my own but grew up helping my Grandfather with various projects in his workshop, so in part, I am doing this in order to reestablish that connection I had with him and to my childhood. But the main reason I want to learn how to make things is that working in the technology field has left me feeling like I’ve lost a connection to the “real world” in a sense.

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