Letting Go of Screen Time

Child_Games_in_carHow much time do you spend each day in the car with your early learner? If you're like most parents, driving your child to and from school and then to other activities, it could add up to over two hours per day! While it's tempting to put a DVD into the portable player, or set your child to playing an educational game on the iPad, car rides are great opportunities for valuable bonding time with your child, and also for working on increasing skills and knowledge.

I challenged my friend Stacy and her four-year-old Ava to let the Frozen DVD go, and try out some non-screen time centered car activities for two weeks*. Four Ava-approved activities are listed below:

1. Describe that object!

A variation of "I Spy," this activity involves describing a person, place, or thing that your child is familiar with. This is an easy and fun way to increase your child's vocabulary through descriptive words/adjectives! Ava's favorites included descriptions of zoo animals like zebras, parrots, and tigers.

2. What happened first?

This is a great way to introduce your child to sequencing—without calling it sequencing. Depending on your early learner's ability level, present either/or questions that would have to be performed in a certain order. For example:

  • Did Alex make his bed first or get out of bed first?
  • What happened first? "I played in a puddle. It rained."

Stacy said that this one was the hardest for which to create material, so it helped her to doodle scenarios that she thought of during the day.

Questions can also be scaffolded by: "What happens first? What happens last? "

3. Listing objects by color

This is a great way to increase vocabulary and spatial awareness. Have your early learner find every object he can see that is yellow. What about red? Blue? If your child doesn't know the name of one of the objects, you can introduce him to the name.

Now Ava knows what a yield sign is!—and a panther crossing sign!

4. Sing-alongs

Your child doesn't know you're a bad singer! Frozen and The Lion King CDs are Ava's favorites.

Sometimes a DVD or game can be a godsend for quiet time, but it's important to not always rely on these easy and effective methods of entertainment. Movies and educational games can supplement your early learner's development, but are not suitable replacements for interpersonal interaction. Doing interactive activities now creates a lifetime bond, and also sets your early learner on a path to success!

*I promised pizza and ice cream in exchange.

Download our free eBook13 Tips For Enjoying Family Fun In the Florida Sun, for more fun ideas for you and your family.

Posted 10/21/15

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Topics: Learning, Children, Play, Activities

Claudia Auger

Written by Claudia Auger

A volunteer for Child Care of Southwest Florida