What a beautiful week of weather we’ve had and many opportunities to get outside in the evening. As school days draw to a close and the summer days arrive it might be the perfect time to set a schedule for what the summer routine might look like for your family.
If the children will be home for a large portion of the day, how will they spend their time? What are the goals for the summer activities? Having time to talk together and make a plan may go a long way to enjoying the summer and feeling relaxed without being “bored."
There are many community resources to check out: the library reading programs, the summer sports leagues, many community Bible schools, organizational day and overnight camps if you are looking for structured activities for your youth.
Whatever the choices you consider, might I encourage to not let these precious days slip away by spending hours in front of the TV or computer.
National Academy of Pediatrics and the White House Campaign on Childhood Obesity promote play
Here are just a few reasons to promote play, both indoor and out, for children from the National Academy of Pediatrics and the White House Campaign on Childhood Obesity. (http://www.screenfree.org/screentimefs.pdf). Please know the following are just recommendations, and we’ve all used electronics to help during stressful times in parenting.
On any given day, 29% of babies younger than the age of 1 are watching TV and videos for an average of about 90 minutes. Twenty-three percent have a television in their bedroom. The recommendation is no screen time for children younger than the age of 2.
Time with screens increases rapidly in the early years. Between their first and second birthday, on any given day, 64% of babies and toddlers are watching TV and videos, averaging slightly over 2 hours. Thirty-six percent have a television in their bedroom.
Data vary on the amount of time preschool children spend with screen media, but even the most conservative findings show that children between the ages of 2 and 5 average 2.2 hours per day. Other studies show that preschoolers spend as much as 4.16 and 4.6 hours per day using screen media.
Screen time can be habit-forming: the more time children engage with screens, the harder time they have turning them off as they become older children.
Including when they’re multitasking, 8- to 18-year-olds consume an average of 7 hours and 11 minutes of screen media per day — an increase of 2.5 hours in just 10 years. For older children and adolescents, excessive screen time is linked to increased psychological difficulties that include hyperactivity, emotional and conduct problems, difficulties with peers and poor school performance.
What can you do instead of screen time?
So what can we do instead? Here’s a whole list for you to choose from and there’s more on the website www.screenfree.org/101screenfreeactivities.pdf. Work together and decide what ones your family would like to try this week or during the summer months.
At Home: Write a letter, make cookies, clean closets and donate or have a garage sale, play games, share your favorite book, explore a new hobby to try, have a tea party.
Outside: plan a picnic, plan and plant a garden, take a hike or go camping, learn to use a compass, climb a tree, visit a park and learn about trees, watch the birds, plant some flowers, enjoy a sunset.
Around town: visit the library, attend a community concert, visit the bookstores, collect recycling and drop it off, go to a museum, go bowling, become a volunteer for your favorite charity.
To be more active: go roller skating or swimming or a bike ride, learn yoga, play soccer, softball or volleyball with neighbors, play Frisbee or go dancing or just go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air.
With your children: Make costumes and act out a play or along with a book and share it with friends at a nursing home, make a poster of favorite screen free activities, make a kite and fly it, organize a scavenger hunt, redecorate a room, plan a slumber party, make a craft, make puppets, use your imagination!
Put the above items on slips of paper in a basket and draw one daily for our “family activity time," before you know it, the activity might be a great way to start a habit for the family to enjoy for the year.
This article originally appeared on The Daily Record: Make a summer screen time plan