Parenting in the Age of Distraction

Ross Laird works extensively with primary and secondary schools on the interconnected themes of childhood and adolescent development, mentorship, addictions, mental health, and education. He has completed several projects with St. George’s School in Vancouver, western Canada’s leading independent school. The descriptions below provide summaries of two such projects: one for parents, and one for teachers.

Ross facilitated a workshop for parents on the emerging cultures of technology and their impact on childhood development, family life, and education. Technology is now an essential feature of the landscape of childhood and adolescence. Gaming, social networking, texting, and other digital tools now provide the central means by which children and adolescents manage the challenges of their development. Issues such as anxiety, depression, isolation, anger, and addiction are increasingly finding niches in the online worlds. Parents, educators, counsellors, and all those who work with children must be able to respond to this groundswell of change with new skills and strategies. This workshop provided a summary of those skills and strategies along with a suite of simple, practical tools that can assist parents in navigating – and helping kids navigate – the complexities of the digital landscape.

Transforming Education

The landscape of education has changed more rapidly in the past decade than in the previous hundred years. Cultural, economic,technological and social changes challenge educators with increasingly complex issues, themes, and opportunities. In this new environment – where the only certainty is that things evolve rapidly – how do we preserve and nurture essential and foundational values such as mentorship, community, and leadership? How do we help kids deal with the ever-increasing risks they face from addictions, mental health challenges, bullying, and technology? How do we help guide them through this complex landscape?

In this workshop Ross explored opportunities for responding to the needs of young learners in new ways. Participants learned about the core skills of understanding and dealing with developmental and mental health challenges such as addictions (to technology and substances), developing useful and practical programs for kids to navigate the challenges of mental health, and helping families (and the school) to work together with purpose and clarity.

The focus of this workshop was on the urgency of the contemporary themes of mental health and the importance of educators joining the conversation, engaging with the turbulence, and being willing to evolve as circumstances evolve around them.

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