In our increasingly digital world, many parents and children are enjoying the educational and entertainment benefits of television, smartphones, computers, and tablets more than ever before. However, like all good things, the philosophy of “everything in moderation” prevails.
To avoid negatively impacting your child’s development, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that “entertainment” screen time should be less than one hour per day for children ages 3 and older, and none for children ages 2 and younger.
Research shows that excessive screen time can cause mood swings, attention deficit disorder, and impair the ability to recognize emotions. According to Marjorie Hogan, a pediatrician and spokeswoman for AAP, “When babies are babies, they’re learning about human interaction with face-to-face time speaking with parents and having things they say modeled back to them. That need doesn’t go away.” Children need personal, face-to-face interaction and communication to build language and social skills.
There’s a variety of activities you can provide to engage your child, capture their interest, and provide hands-on learning experiences in an entertaining way:
- Create an arts and crafts box filled with a variety of supplies, including beads, paper, colored, paints, stickers, and ribbons that encourage your child to make something from their own imagination.
- Encourage the use of building toys, including blocks, Legos, Lincoln Logs to spark your child’s creativity.
- Play matching games, using cards, pictures, figurines, letters, and objects, to help develop cognitive skills.
- Set aside “quiet time” with an assortment of reading books, paper dolls, action figures, and coloring books to help your child learn to play independently and creatively.
- Play “dress up” with a box of fun costumes, clothes, hats, jewelry, and accessories.
- Create a “restaurant” with an assortment of plastic kitchen utensils, plates, bowls, and cups.
- Spend time outdoors to help encourage your child to walk, run, exercise, and play sports for healthy, physical activity.
- Rotate your child’s toys to help prevent your child from getting bored.
- Sing or read aloud with your child.
- Plant flower or vegetable seeds in an outdoor garden or indoor flower pot.
In the Apple Montessori Schools’ classroom, teachers encourage children to engage emotionally, socially, physically and intellectually in a peaceful, real-life environment. Activities are designed to foster face-to-face interaction, a sense of accomplishment in performing purposeful tasks, respectful communication, and greater concentration and focus so your child can learn and develop life-long skills.