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Resources Help Parents Explore Instructional Benefits of Digital Media

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Parents often are conflicted when it comes to digital media.

On one hand, it's a pricey lifesaver that renders children almost mute so that busy parents can handle more pressing tasks. But relying too much on tablets and game consoles to occupy your children's time can trigger a severe case of guilt among even the most digital-friendly parent.

In the latest issue of the Harvard Family Research Project's FINE Newsletter, four experts explore how institutions like schools, museums, and libraries can provide parents with sound advice to support their children's use of digital media.  (FINE stands for the Family Involvement Network of Educators.)

In the newsletter, Heather B. Weiss, director of the Harvard Family Research Project, writes that these institutions can "partner with parents and families in exciting ways to help them understand, shape, support, and share in their children's digital learning."

Weiss writes that resources like the Fred Rodgers Early Learning Environment (Ele), which provides early literacy and digital-media literacy training for teachers, home-based child-care workers and families with young children alike, and youth drop-in media labs at the Chicago Public Library are essential in developing digital support for families. They show that family engagement is a "shared responsibility for children's learning and development in a digital environment."

Meanwhile, another FINE effort I wrote about in December for this blog is up and running. The Family Engagement During the Transition to School discussion board helps educators set goals to engage the families of young children during the transition to school.

Christine L. Patton, a senior research analyst and member of the Harvard Family Research Project FINE team, writes in an email that discussion-board users include early-childhood education coordinators, preschool and kindergarten teachers, school counselors and curriculum supervisors. While some users are seeking to develop new transition programs, she said others want to learn more about successfully transitioning children and families who enroll in school after the kindergarten year has started.

Members of the Harvard Family Research FINE team and Shannon Wanless, the director of the Supporting Early Education and Development (SEED) Lab at the University of Pittsburgh, field questions and direct users to helpful resources. 

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