Posts Tagged ‘Screen time’

Note: This is the second of a two part blog. You can find part one here.

Do start “strewing“.

I love this term. It was coined by a home schooling, or rather an un-schooling mom, as a way to identify her method of creating a rich environment for her children. Look around your home. What is there that is interesting for a child to pick up, look at, explore? Look at your children. What things are they currently interested in? What things might they potentially be interested in? What things might you put in each child’s path that might grab their attention and give them something to do or to think about? Perhaps a book from the library on how to play chess? Maybe some drawing materials and blank paper? What if you set up a small easel in the corner with some watercolors close at hand? You get the idea. Find these kinds of books and materials and just “strew” them (or strategically place them) on the end table, on the sofa…wherever your child might “stumble across it”. Casually place an interesting looking puzzle on the kitchen table after breakfast has been cleared. Better yet, start working on the puzzle and see who joins you. Purchase an inexpensive set of horseshoes, badminton, or croquet and make it available to your children. Start “strewing” and then sit back and watch…or join in! It’s really quite fun!

Do limit screen time.

Now that you’ve created a rich environment for your children, the last thing you want is for them to fall back on the old standby and spend hours with their faces glued to a screen. I know how that is. Whenever a screen is turned on in our home, there is some sort of magnetic force which automatically pulls all children within a hundred yards….sssfffffttttt…can you hear the sucking noise? Yep, there they are all with their faces glued to the screen. It doesn’t matter whose turn it is on the computer, they all have their faces glued to it. In a way, this is not all bad, at least with that many faces watching, it is less likely that the one on the computer will get into too much trouble…but still, not the best choice for too long. So we limit screen time. No TV or movies at all during the day, half an hour at the computer per child for games. If they are writing or using the computer as a tool instead of as a toy, they get more time.

Do have some read-aloud time as a family.

Do read to your children regularly. Choose great living books which are above their “level”; that is, choose books that they would consider hard to read. Read something they love. Read something YOU love…I refuse to read aloud a book that I hate. Choose something that may spark an interest or inspire them. After I read Little Britches to my children, one son spent the next weeks reading everything he could get his hands on by the author, Ralph Moody. Read about heroes…real heroes. Read classics like Where the Red Fern Grows and The Yearling or Laddie…A Little Princess, Heidi. (I’ve got to get the good books section of this blog fleshed out!) You get the idea. There are so many wonderful books to choose from. Share the magic with your children! At the dinner table each day, talk about what you have been reading. Discuss the characters. Is there someone in your life who is like a character in the book you are reading? What do you like or dislike about the characters? What do you learn from them? Which ones do you want to be like?

Do encourage lots of Summer reading.

Along with reading to your children, encourage them to read for themselves. Summer is the perfect time for hanging out in the hammock with a good book, or sitting in the backyard tree with a good book. Good books are appropriate nearly everywhere. Make a trip to the local library a regular part of your week. Let the children choose freely. Also choose for them some things you would like to encourage (for “strewing” once you get home). Get them involved with the Summer Reading Program if your library has one…or have a (not TOO structured) family Summer reading program. Keep a list on the refrigerator of suggested books. Keep another list of books your family has read and let everyone add to the list as they finish books. See how many books your family collectively reads over the Summer. I used to occasionally read just the first few chapters of a great book to my children and then leave it for them to pick up on their own if they chose.

Plan spontaneous fun.

Yeah, you read that right. I said plan for spontaneity. While you are at the grocery store, pick up some bubbles that you can bring out on an afternoon which needs a little livening up (or find a recipe online). Pick up some drawing materials or watercolors and stash them away to bring out at an opportune time. Keep your eyes peeled for interesting things which have the potential of livening up the day. This is a little like the concept of strewing, except that you keep these things tucked away and pull them out as a spontaneous surprise for your children to enjoy.

Do use music to set the tone in your home.

Once you’ve eliminated the screens and noise that comes with them from your home, you may want to sometimes replace that with music. Use music to set the mood in your home. If you want a peaceful atmosphere, play music which is conducive to that. If you want a more lively and upbeat atmosphere, then put on some music. We use lively music in our home whenever I am trying to encourage everyone to get the house tidied up. It gets everyone moving.

I love using music in my home. Often, the children do not even really notice it…and then I will hear them humming along. And while you are at it, maybe Summer is the time to get out that old guitar and dust it off, or buy an inexpensive ukulele and learn with your children how to play some simple chords.

Do set the example for them.

Children need models in their lives. If you don’t like the activities that they are choosing, perhaps you might look at how you spend your own time. Do your children regularly see you trying new things? Learning something new? Reading great literature? Spending time doing something you are passionate about? Do you share with them what you are learning and your excitement over the things you are passionate about? Maybe Summer is a great time for you to discover…or rediscover…your own interests and passions as well.

Enjoy your children.

Last but certainly not least, enjoy your children. Remember why you brought them into the world and into your family in the first place. Give them a hug as they walk by. Tousle their hair as you walk by them.  Get physical in playful ways that show them you love them and that you are glad that they are home with you. Children grow up so quickly. The hours that you get to spend with them are really quite short comparatively. Cherish each age and stage that they pass through. Look into their eyes and really see the wonderful person that is there. Treat them as the wonderful beings that they are. Don’t try to prod, poke, or manipulate them into being someone else, just love them for who they are right now. Help them to discover their own interests and passions. And then get excited about those things with them. Love never fails. Love is probably the most empowering thing in a child’s…or any person’s life. Just love them…just enjoy each moment with them.

End Note: …and if you find that these ideas work for you and you find that you really do enjoy having your children at home and by your side after all, you might consider home education this fall…just sayin’.


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