Elementary Schoolers : Ages 6 - 10

During this stage of development, your students are learning to become a part of the larger world through school, activities, and friends. They become more independent, begin to understand cause and effect, and learn to reflect on their own actions. During this stage it is important to encourage development in these areas:

  1. Reading and Math Skills - Teachers' main priority during these years is to help their students learn about letters and numbers. Encourage your students' parents to continue this work at home by immersing them in an environment where print is important. For example, playing store using a calculator, receipts, and menus can expose them to the functions that letters and numbers play in the real world.

  2. Social Skills - Teachers should continue to encourage the development of social skills like cooperation, sharing, following instructions, and making friends.

  3. Physical Activity - Elementary school children are still mastering control of their bodies by using their major muscle groups to run and jump and play. It is also important that they learn to control their fine motor movements for tasks like writing.

  4. Problem solving skills - Teachers can encourage reason and logic by asking children open-ended questions like "Why do you think that happened?" or "What do you think will happen if..."

So how does media fit into these needs of elementary school students?

Television and Movies
This time of life is when kids typically watch the most TV. But watching television does not offer kids the chance to build the kinds of skills mentioned above. CMCH recommends that teachers speak with their students' parents about working to find a balance between time for media and time for family, friends, school, and sleep.

A good way to explain this balance to parents is to put it in terms of nutrition. Everyone needs food, and it is a parent's job to ensure that their kids have a healthy diet. This means thinking about the quality  and the quantity  of what their children eat. In the same way, parents can promote a healthy media diet.

Parents need to take the time to look at the quality and content of the television and movies their children watch. At this age, children are very vulnerable to suggestion. Seeing violence, alcohol, tobacco, and sexual behavior in the media can be harmful.

Encourage parents to monitor how much time their children spend in front of the screen in order to avoid overweight and other concerns. Since children of this age group are now in school, they understand the concept of weekdays versus weekends. This is the ideal time to establish time limits for media.

Taking the nutrition example one step further, CMCH recommends that parents' treat physical activity, schoolwork, family time, and sleep as the "meat and potatoes" of your children's life. These activities need to take priority in their lives, while media use should be considered "dessert" -- a treat to be consumed in moderation.

Research has shown that around age seven, children begin to understand the purpose of advertising. They realize that commercials are shown to get them to want to buy things.

This is the perfect time to introduce media literacy to your students. They will feel empowered by knowing the "tricks" behind advertising.

Computers and the Internet
At this age, children start to use the internet. While educational games and the research possibilities of the internet are good benefits of using computers, teachers can encourage Internet safety to avoid the many risks of using the web.

Some candy and junk-food companies have websites with computer games that advertise their products. This is called "advergaming," and many children are attracted to these sites.

Video Games
Elementary school students often enjoy playing video games after school. These games are easy to learn and players are rewarded for their skills, getting new codes and new levels as they go.

As we mentioned with television, encourage parents to monitor how much time their children spend playing video games. Since children of this age group are now in school, they understand the concept of weekdays versus weekends. This is the ideal time for parents to establish time limits.

Additionally, encourage parents to monitor the kinds of games their kids are playing. Violent video games teach that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems.

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CMCH resources for parents and teachers are made possible
by a grant from the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation.

Related Links:

Media Literacy Lesson Plans

What is Media Literacy?

Teachers' Homepage

CMCH Newsletter

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