My daughter turned 13 this past summer and we just celebrated her Bat Mitzvah last month. On her actual birthday, her Father and I gave her an iPad 2 to mark this milestone year (we don’t normally give huge birthday presents like that).
A few weeks after 8th grade began in September, she asked if she could start bringing it to school. My first reaction was “hell to the no!”
She kept asking. Her middle school has a SSR (silent sustained reading) policy. Students must have a reading book with them at all times. When there’s time left at the end of a period, or a delay before a program, they’re expected to be reading. If they have nothing with them to read, they’re given demerits.
Our local library is small and lacking. It was cheaper/easier for her to read her books on the iPad as iBooks or Kindle. But then in school she was complaining that she didn’t have an SSR, or she would be reading something on the iPad that she wanted to continue reading in school.
We relented and let her bring the iPad to school on a few conditions:
- It was entirely her responsibility. If it got lost, stolen or broken there is absolutely no excuse we would accept. It would not be replaced under any circumstances. She keeps begging us to test how responsible she could be. This was her chance.
- If I got even a single report of the iPad being used to entertain or distract there would be no second chance. It would never go back to school. There is no wifi for students in the building, and her iPad doesn’t have 3G.
- She had to ask permission of all her teachers (they all said yes, given the conditions we already set).
Last week I visited each teacher for parent/teacher conferences of the first marking period. Her report card was excellent and one of the best of her middle school career. Only one grade below 90 – an 86 in honors math – her toughest course. Last year, she was a solid B/low A student in her academic subjects. Definite improvement this year.
Each teacher I spoke to, in between raving about what a pleasure my kid is to have in class ::kvell:: remarked that the iPad has been a positive influence on her education. She’s been taking notes and emailing her teachers when she has questions (they all say they don’t mind). She uses iStudiez Pro to keep on top of her assignments instead of the messy paper agenda. They haven’t seen one minute of her using the iPad inappropriately or carelessly. In fact, a few have recommended apps to her she should try.
Finally, when she’s home she’s texting less and using Facetime to keep in touch with her friends. Full sentences. Eye contact. Conversation. Less misunderstandings, fights and teenage drama. Yay!