Ithaca Waldorf School’s Media and Screen Time Philosophy and Guidelines
The Ithaca Waldorf School endeavors to provide students with the capacity to engage in the world through their own imagination, thoughts and deeds. Our curriculum and pedagogical methods are designed to allow children’s capacities to unfold in a developmentally appropriate sequence. The qualities of receptivity and wonder that are cultivated in the children allow media images to affect our children in significant ways. We ask students and their families to participate actively and creatively in their education. One of the most important ways parents can do this is by honoring, and following to the best of their ability, our philosophy regarding students’ exposure to media. When needed, our teachers will request conversation about this issue, and encourage parents to reduce or alter their child’s use of media if that exposure is undermining his or her education or the education of others. Eliminating or restricting media and screen time for children is important for the following reasons:
• Electronic media limits the child’s capacity to create pictures that aren’t simply variations of electronic media images, a skill that is basic to class work in Waldorf schools.
• The visual and auditory images received from media are so powerful that they overwhelm the child’s memory of images that the teacher has presented during the day.
• In some children passive entertainment can lead to a deadening of the will. An inner passivity is engendered and with it a lessening of the capacity to overcome personal boredom. Thus the children have a more difficult time appreciating subtleties of perception and self-expression.
• Screen time and electronic media can result in challenges such as: short attention spans, distractibility, the need to be entertained, attention-getting behavior, inability to listen, weakened eye muscles and compromised vision which hamper reading.
The Ithaca Waldorf School’s Guidelines for Early Childhood
We request that the daily experience of the young child not include exposure to electronic media and technology, including computers and cell phones and other hand-held devices/screens. We understand that this may be difficult to honor without fail. Nevertheless, we ask that parents affirm their commitment to expose their young child to media and screen time as little as possible, in order to support the work and goals of our education in the early years. Teachers are happy to assist with transitions toward a media-free environment, and welcome conversations with parents. If a teacher has concerns about a child’s experience of media or screen time, the parent(s) should expect, and be willing to engage in, a sincere conversation about the topic. A media-free childhood is a true gift, and one that our school values highly.