4 ways to get kids off the iPad

2020 has been more challenging than most for many families. When lockdown came at the end of March it saw the end of normal life for everyone except our fantastic key workers, which included school teachers and nursery staff. Children of all ages were confined at home and parents around the country were trying to juggle childcare, home-schooling and working from home so it’s not surprising that many of us turned to TV and the internet as a means of keeping our children occupied while we tried to work and Zoom, and previous daily screen time allowances went out of the window! But the new academic year has begun and we’re returning to something more like our old routines, now is a really good time to reinstate the screen-time boundaries.

 

1) Setting the ground rules

If you are cutting back screen time make sure the rules are clear and simple and, if your children are old enough, make it a joint agreement.

  1. Discuss the benefits of using technology (keeping in touch with friends and family, playing games or strategic thinking, research and learning)
  2. Talk about why time on tech or online needs to be limited (the importance of exercise, fresh air, time away from blue light, being with friends)
  3. Agree on the rules and write them down (you may have a variation for the weekends and holidays)
  4. Place rules somewhere visible – like on the fridge door
  5. Enforce the rules to keep the boundaries set

For younger ones who have no real concept of time, you might find it useful to set a timer so they know when their time is up. Suggest taking a quick break between activities or game levels for a rest, a drink or a cuddle.

 

2) Finding fun activities

If you’re finding it hard to wean little ones off TV programmes or internet games they’ve relied on during the holidays, here are a few activities for you to try:

  • Collecting acorns and conkers
  • Visit Greenwich Park
  • Take fallen leaves and hole punch them to create confetti to use instead of glitter for glueing and sticking
  • Make leaf prints
  • Cut up old potatoes and use for potato printing
  • Plant old ‘sprouty’ potatoes in big pots and grow your own potatoes for harvesting
  • Collect flowers, leaves and seed heads and ‘press’ them in a flower press or sandwich between heavy books and use for card marking or scrapbooking
  • Go on a bug or mini beast hunt
  • Decorate biscuits with ready-made icing pens and edible decorations (this is great if you’re short on time but want to do some ‘baking’)
  • Visit the local library and let them choose a book
  • Build an indoor den (a couple of blankets and sofa cushions should do!)
  • Have an indoor or outdoor picnic
  • Float leaves in the water at Greenwich River Walk
  • Go for a walk and stop for ice cream or hot chocolate on the way home

Here at Little Cubs Academy, we’re extremely lucky that our Nursery in Greenwich is surrounded by nature and the children enjoy their regular visits to the Greenwich Deer Park, Greenwich Ecology Park and Mudchute Farm to give the children a range of different outdoor experiences and connect them with the natural world around them.

 

3) Taking regular exercise

Making sure children get enough exercise is another challenge – particular as we lose the summer weather – but if you can find something they really enjoy it will be a whole lot easier.

Try out different activities – they might be a team player or prefer an individual sport or activity – and there are so many to choose from. Many local clubs, teams or classes offer free trial sessions.

Little Cubs Academy offers fun yoga, dance and PE classes to give our children a range of different styles of exercise at both our Nursery in Greenwich and Nursery in Forest Hill.

 

4) Reading books together

And finally – something we spotted on the Greenwich Mums website – the joy of reading a book together. This activity could easily be combined with some of the other ideas we’ve already mentioned, such as reading an adventure book in your newly-constructed den, or maybe going on a bear hunt or finding a very hungry caterpillar as part of your bug hunt.

There are lots more ideas on Greenwichmums.com about making reading together even more fun.

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