Teaneck Schools Admin: Remember the Rubric, Forget the Rationale – “Mandating” Chaos in Pre-K

The Teaneck School system is blindly applying Pre-COVID regulations designed specifically for “in-class instruction”, to “virtual classrooms” — and it’s actively harming education.

Teachers are being told to limit instruction time to 15 minutes based on a rule that’s meant to ensure that teachers don’t plop kids in front of a screen in a center or large child care facility.

It was written before the days of COVID (in 2012) and has nothing at all to do with distance learning.

Mandating 15 minute intervals, especially as parents struggle with a constant stream of links, creates chaos for the virtual classroom.

Teachers need to be given the opportunity to design their lesson times and breaks, as fits the situation.


It’s September and schools have started up here in Teaneck.  As most families are acutely aware, this year will be like no other that preceded it.

For families with Kindergarten and Pre-K students, like mine, it’s far more difficult.

We received an email from our daughter’s Teacher at Bryant school.

It reads:

“We are mandated to stick to 15 min. intervals of screen time/ live instruction.” (emphasis added)

The Bryant School Remote Learning Plan contains similar language:

“In accordance with NJ DOE guidelines, children between 2 and 5 years old shall be exposed to no more than 15 minutes of screen time, and no more than 60 total minutes of combined home and school screen time.” (emphasis added)

Misinformation and Obfuscation

All class instruction is virtual.  If there is no “school screen time”, is there merely an hour max of instruction per day (in the home)?

I made an inquiry to the district as to to the source of this “mandate” and I also emailed the principal.

Principal Davidman provided the information rather quickly and we spoke for about half an hour yesterday.

The “mandate” doesn’t exist and it’s certainly not new or related to virtual education.

This requirement is created by Teaneck and stems from the CFOC Guidelines (Caring for Our Children, (CFOC) is a collection of national standards that represent the best practices, based on evidence, expertise, and experience, for quality health and safety policies and practices for today’s early care and education settings)

Her email in response to my querry can be found here:

It reads:

Children between 2 and 5 years old shall be exposed to no more than 15 consecutive minutes of screen time, and no more than 60 total minutes per day of combined home and school screen time.
– Caring for Our Children, includes the recommendations for early care and education facilities of three national organizations, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, and National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education,https://nrckids.org/CFOC. P. 67 third edition (CFOC3)

Does the CFOC actually say this?

Indeed, the words appear (it’s up to CFOC4 now, so if you click the link, it’s on page 70) in section 2.2.0.3.

But here’s the rub – this is not the scenario the recommendation applies to.

After each section, the CFOC lists the following:

  • Rationale
  • Comments
  • Type of Facility

These are areas, where they explain the reccomendation.

Here’s what it says (again, page 70-71 in the CFOC4):

Rationale:

To best develop their cognitive, language, motor, and social-emotional skills, infants and toddlers need hands-on exploration and social interaction with trusted caregivers (1). Digital media viewing do not promote such skills development as well as “real life”. (emphasis added)

Comments:

Digital media is not without benefits, including learning from high-quality content, creative engagement, and social interactions. However, especially in young children, real-life social interactions promote greater learning and retention of knowledge and skills.  When limited digital media are used, co-viewing and co-teaching with an engaged adult promotes more effective learning and development.

Because children may use digital media before and after attending early care and education settings, limiting digital media use in early care and education settings and substituting developmentally appropriate play and other hands-on activities can better promote learning and skills development. (emphasis added)

TYPE OF FACILITY:

Center, Large Family Child Care Home

Did you catch that, too?

They remembered the rubric (screen bad), but for got the rationale (because in-person instruction is better!)

This is a rule that’s meant to ensure that teachers don’t plop kids in front of a screen in a center or large child care facility.  It’s written before the days of COVID (in 2012) and has nothing at all to do with distance learning.

If the teacher’s find that kids can’t handle that much instruction time, of course, it is appropriate to modify the schedules accordingly.  But, to pretend that a  recommendation on extraneous screen time is a mandate during virtual learning is detrimental to our kids, and onerous on parents & teachers.

And the teacher’s know it’s impossible:

Yet, we are told this is a “mandate” from the State of NJ.

Well, if this is a mandate, I mandate you read this and share it, because something is not right in Teaneck.

2 Replies to “Teaneck Schools Admin: Remember the Rubric, Forget the Rationale – “Mandating” Chaos in Pre-K”

  1. So If Teaneck is suppose to be Such a unified township; why is our leadership always looking to point a finger or shaming people instead of coming together to come up with solutions. My mother alway stayed to me if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem! What do you propose the solution should be? I was a preschool teacher; children between the ages of 2 to 5 do not have a long attention span and will not sit still in front of a screen longer than 15 minutes if that long.

    1. The “solution” I mention in the post is to allow pre-school and Kindergarten teachers the flexibility to build a program that makes sense.

      In this case, my daughter’s teacher (who is amazing, by the way), WANTS to teach certain portions for longer than the allotted 15 minutes.

      We aren’t talking about every segment, but not everything can be done that quick, especially when some people miss a few minutes getting the links and various sites synced up. Even 5 minutes could be a third of the lesson.

      This is chaos.

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