Many children that are now in primary school and beyond have grown up with the immediacy of electronic devices to stave off boredom, but if you’re like the many parents that want to limit time on screens in favour for more creative pursuits, what are your options?
According to Jane from Rainbow Fun, there are some simple ways to encourage kids to get creative away from the screen that don’t always need a lot of input and scaffolding from us as parents! We may even be able to enjoy an uninterrupted cup of coffee!
You may have seen screen time checklists popping up online and according to Jane they can be a great idea to kick start the process.
“The checklists where kids need to spend 30 minutes outdoors, do a chore and do something creative before getting an allotted amount of screen time can be very effective,” Jane says.
“Often they’ll head outside and start a game and spend a lot more time outdoors than the specified time and then they’re ready to move onto the next thing. Screen time can be a great motivator for some kids and they’ll diligently go ahead and tick off their items – having creative fun and helping around the house in the process.” Check out our Screen Time Checklist here.
Instead of just pushing a button on a device, these kits allow kids to simply open a box and everything they need to create something is inside.
These kinds of kits take the pressure off parents to have a huge array of craft materials and there’s easy to follow instructions and even videos in some cases if your child is a visual learner.
“The real benefit of these kits is that everything is there – all they have to do is open the box and they are instantly using other parts of their brain. It takes time to construct, plan and even get creative with colouring or painting.
“The other thing that’s brilliant about these kits is that they let the parent off the hook, as we’re not all brimming with creative ideas for our kids and these allow you to engage the kids in something stimulating and creative without putting in a lot of planning.”
Jane says she always looks for three things in the kits she stocks – education, fun and creativity. Brands Jane recommends include Seedling, Tiger Tribe, Djeco and PlayMais.
Family games are a great way for all to put down the screens and spend quality time together. Old favourites like Monopoly, Yahtzee and Scrabble can provide endless hours of fun, but there are also one player strategy games on the market that can keep kids occupied and engaged for hours.
“A lot of the one player strategy games, such as Think Fun’s Rush Hour, Laser Maze, Circuit Maze and Gravity Maze Games, are based on STEM concepts and provide a lot of high level thinking for kids,” says Jane.
“Having games available that all members of the household can play is a great alternative you can point the kids towards when they’re begging for more screen time. And having a break and joining in yourself is a great way to relax.”
Jigsaw puzzles are still popular as they’re an ideal activity for the whole family that can be completed at leisure and provide a much-needed way to unwind for busy families.
Jane suggests getting a large jigsaw puzzle and keeping it out so each member of the family can get involved.
“We’re really into puzzles in our house, so I’ll get a 500 or 1000-piece jigsaw and put it on a puzzle mat on the dining table. This can be easily tucked away when needed and when it’s out we can all sit down and do a little at a time.
“If I’m having a go, I’ll get the kids involved by asking them to help me find one piece and then before you know it we’ve spent 45 minutes together.”
“It’s a great way to unwind.”
Simple, age appropriate puzzles are also a great way for kids to have fun while feeling the sense of achievement that comes with solving puzzles. Jane recommends Ravensburger and Djeco jigsaw puzzles for their exceptional quality and range of stunning images that inspire little puzzlers.