Screen Time Strategies for Families - Glasshouse Christian College

Screen Time Strategies for Families



  • June 20, 2024

Screen Time Strategies for Families

from Robyn Papworth (Play, Move, Improve Consultant)

The Prep team has recently engaged in some coaching sessions with Robyn Papworth from Play, Move, Improve. 

Robyn is based in Melbourne and is an accredited Exercise Physiologist, Masters qualified Development Educator, mother of three children, and a passionate advocate for children who have learning difficulties, autism, trauma, and developmental delay. 

In our after-school online sessions, we discussed many factors impacting childhood development.  One area that is often discussed in our early years sector is the impact of technology and screen time.

In the digital era, managing screen time for kids is a growing concern for many parents and caregivers. While screens can offer educational content and a momentary distraction, it is crucial to balance this with activities that promote physical, cognitive, and emotional development. Here are some effective strategies families can use to enrich developmental skills in youngsters, helping to balance and combat the effects of screen time.

1. Encourage Physical Play

Physical play is vital for developing motor skills, balance, and coordination. Here’s how families can integrate more physical activities into their children’s daily routines:

  • Outdoor Adventures: Regular visits to parks, playgrounds, and outdoor spaces encourage children to run, jump, and climb, enhancing their physical abilities and balance.
  • Sports Fun: Introduce simple sports like throwing balls, running races, or setting up a mini obstacle course. These activities are not only fun but also improve spatial awareness and motor skills.
  • Dance and Movement: Have dance sessions at home. Dancing helps kids develop rhythm, coordination, and motor skills while allowing them to express themselves creatively.

2. Stimulate Creative Play

Creative play sparks imagination and critical thinking. Here are ways to foster creativity without screens:

  • Arts and Crafts: Provide materials like crayons, markers, and paper, or engage in crafts with glue, scissors, and recyclable materials. Artistic activities aid in fine motor skills and creative problem-solving.
  • Role-Playing Games: Engage in role-playing games, where children can dress up and act out scenarios. This type of play enhances social skills and emotional understanding.
  • Building and Construction: Use blocks, Lego, or other construction toys to build structures. This type of play enhances spatial reasoning and problem-solving skills.

3. Promote Sensory Play

Sensory play is crucial for cognitive and linguistic development. It involves any activity that engages the senses:

  • Texture Exploration: Create a sensory bin with items like rice, beans, or water beads. Add tools for scooping and pouring to refine motor skills and enhance sensory experiences.
  • Nature Walks: Go for walks and let your child explore different textures, from leaves to rocks to mud. It’s an excellent way for them to learn about the world through direct sensory experiences.
  • Cooking Together: Involve your kids in cooking simple recipes. The kitchen is a fantastic sensory play space where children can learn about textures, tastes, and smells.

4. Read Together

Reading is a timeless activity with numerous developmental benefits:

  • Regular Reading Time: Set aside time for reading every day. Interactive books with flaps or textures are especially engaging for little kids but listening to good quality literature also has amazing benefits.
  • Library Visits: Make trips to the local library for storytelling sessions and new books, fostering a love for reading and continuous learning.

5. Foster Social Interaction

Social skills are built through interaction, which is something screens cannot adequately provide:

  • Playdates: Organise playdates with children of similar ages. Social play is crucial for developing communication skills, empathy, and emotional regulation.
  • Family Games: Engage in board and card games, which can teach turn-taking and cooperative play. (The local library also has some games that can be borrowed from the collection.)

6. Set a Time Limit on Gaming

Young brains are not designed to withstand long periods in front of gaming devices and can become overstimulated leading to other behaviour issues.  

  • Set a timer (such as an oven timer, phone timer or small digital one so that students can see how long
  • Discuss the time it takes to complete a section of the game and work together to set the timer
  • Discuss afterwards how they feel when they get off the game/device – are they frustrated or disappointed because of something that happened in the game or because the time is up?  

Conclusion

While screens are part of modern life, they don’t have to dominate. By integrating these activities into your daily routine, you can ensure that your child has a well-rounded development, balancing the necessary screen time with plenty of opportunities to explore, play, and grow in the real world. Encouraging active, engaged, and creative play will not only combat the passive nature of screen time but also contribute to a healthier, more dynamic childhood.

You can visit Robyn’s website for more information and ideas about supporting healthy childhood development.  She is also active on Facebook, simply search Play, Move, Improve.

Sarah Leary, Assistant Head of Primary (Prep -2)

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