Many kids are learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving nannies left to wonder how they should balance their family’s screen time with school time. Should screens be left off entirely unless they are being used for educational purposes? Or should kids be allowed some extra leeway during these unprecedented times?
Nannies should always ask their families for guidance and clarification about screen time. Some families may have a strict “no screens outside of school hours” policy. For families that allow screen time in addition to school time, here are five ways to balance the two.
Screen time isn’t always the enemy. There are plenty of educational apps and shows available to help kids of all ages learn, even when they aren’t inside school hours. For younger kids, PBS programming can help them learn how to count and read. Older kids might benefit from documentaries and other programs that teach them about history, geography, and science.
There are also plenty of apps that can help kids learn to do everything from reading to learning a new language or even programming. Nannies and tutors can work together to find apps and programs that reinforce learning concepts while entertaining kids at the same time.
It can be easy to let kids stay on their screens all day long if you’re not careful. Set limits, such as 30 minutes every two hours. Use a timer to make sure the kids are sticking to their limits. When the time is up, screens are off.
Make time limits non-negotiable, but don’t present them as a punishment. Have an activity planned for afterward that kids will enjoy as much as, if not more than, the time they spent on their screens. An outdoor activity or something that gets kids moving can help them release their energy.
The mobility of screens can easily make every room in the house a screen room. Set up no-screen zones where kids cannot bring their phones, tablets, or non-school-use laptops. The bedroom is an excellent example of a no-screen zone. This is where kids can go to read, do homework, play, make a fort, or do anything else that does not involve a screen.
Keeping screens out of kids’ bedrooms can also help them create healthy bedtime habits that enable them to fall asleep without the help of a screen.
Often, kids turn the TV on because they’re bored or have run out of other ideas. Take some time to create an “I’m bored” jar with your family. Use ripped up sheets of paper or popsicle sticks to write down ideas for what the kids can do when they’re bored. Get creative!
Some ideas to get you started include:
You and your kids can come up with countless things that will keep them entertained when they are feeling restless.
Make a rule that when someone says, “I’m bored,” they have to choose an item that you and the rest of the kids will do with them. This reinforces the idea that you are in this pandemic with them and are here to help your kids learn, have fun, and stay safe.
Adults are just as guilty as turning to screen time as kids. Set a good example by limiting how often you check your phone when you’re with your family. Let your kids see that you are following the same rules that you have helped them create. Whether you realize it or not, your family looks up to you as a role model.
Be the nanny who always puts their kids first, before screens and everything else. This will help create a safe environment for your kids and show them that there’s more to life than just staring at a screen.
If you’re still having difficulty finding the boundaries between school time and screen time, we’re here to help! Feel free to reach out to @Ease at any time to get more tips and information on how you can help your family during these unprecedented times.