Appropriate Remote Class Interaction

As we continue with distance learning, we are reminded that our children are full of wonder and curiosity, and oftentimes repeat what they may see, hear or read, which from time to time may not be the most appropriate.

As we create a virtual community for our students we want to be sure children feel they have a voice, but also expect them to be respectful and acknowledge the use of appropriate language. We do not tolerate hate language or foul words that can be derogatory or hurt someone's feelings. We want to teach our students that words are powerful, and can have a big impact. Below are some tips we can all use to help us with talking to our children about the use of language.

Tips adapted from Common Sense Media:

  1. Think time and place. What might be no big deal at your house could be offensive at your best friend's place. Remind kids to keep their audience in mind when they're speaking. The language you use when texting your best buddy can be a bit looser than the words you use in a classroom or when speaking to Grandma on Skype.
  2. Expand your own vocab. You can almost always find a substitute for a curse word. Encourage kids to check out a thesaurus and find some creative alternatives to common curses or different ways to describe the feeling that's making them want to curse. (My son is saying "peanut butter" instead of "dummy." I tend to use "fig" a lot when I'm frustrated.)
  3. Words can hurt. Being called a name can sting. And just like it's not ok to hit someone or bully them, it's not ok to curse at someone to hurt them. Plus, hate speech (words used to specifically target someone's race, religion, gender, etc.) can have major consequences. Point out when TV characters call each other names, and ask kids how they could have handled the situation differently.
  4. Language reflects on you. Maybe some of your kids' friends think cursing makes you cool, but the reality is that someone who curses a lot tends to look immature and not at all classy. Remind kids to keep that in mind, especially when they're sending their language out into the world on social networks, online communities, etc.
  5. Limit exposure. Check out the "language" sections of our media reviews to help select TV shows, movies, games, etc. that keep the language within your comfort level. Find out how to turn off comments or access to chat rooms if kids are seeing inappropriate language on the web.