We learned a lot this last school year. We were thrust into a world where we all had to become tech wizards in a matter of moments – and we all did. But now that summer is here, some of us are feeling the need to ditch the screens, for ourselves, but especially for our children. We have all become so reliant on technology, and very few people would deny it has afforded us many opportunities. But in this great big world beyond our doors, there are so many other ways to encourage our children to use their time. Below you will find a short list of ways to get kids off of screens and out into the great outdoors (or at least lost in a good book!):
Learn to Earn
One of our biggest challenges as teachers over any “normal” summer is learning loss which occurs over those summer months. Post-pandemic learning loss throws an even bigger punch. To help with this, encourage your child to engage in learning activities at some point throughout the day. It could be as simple as a google search that brings up practice worksheets that you can print and put into play. Our neighbor has her kids start their day with a “working breakfast”, where she prints off a worksheet for them to complete to get their day started. There are lots of free resources out there, but encourage them to complete the work first, then they will earn some screen time after. It’s not ideal, but it does keep the learning fresh in their minds. That way, they are that much more prepared for the year ahead.
Play Time Leads to Tech Time
In our home, I have our kids start their day with three hours of outdoor or creative play. This gets them outdoors and active. Usually after playing, they lose sight of the time and put their focus on the fun that naturally comes with exploring outdoors. To make this even more kid-driven, I had them create a list of 30 things they could do that didn’t involve a screen. It was pretty great to see all of the things they came up with! From reading a book to catching frogs, we all know that when it’s their idea, the chance of them actually doing it is much greater!
Bingo Board Activities
Another way to utilize that idea list is to put all of their ideas on a bingo board. Once they get a bingo, give them the opportunity to play for a set amount of tech time. This can be hard sometimes, because it involves a bit of monitoring on our end. If we set ground rules and make sure our kids stick to them, we are building more than structure. We are also helping our kids build responsibility — an essential life skill that goes far beyond those summer months.
Take Tech Outdoors
Now, I know this technically is using tech, but it is putting it to use in an exploratory way. One of the greatest apps I have been introduced to over the past several months is Seek by iNaturalist. If you haven’t heard of it, go to your app store right now and download it – so cool! This is an app used to identify plants and animals. So if you’re out on a hike or simply stepping out onto the deck, snap a picture of that cool tree you just walked past. Check out that weird bug that just landed on your deck chair. My kids love it just as much as I do. It’s easy to navigate and fun to learn about the world around them.