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Parents are in a quandary and a panic and many are wandering around clueless in a maze of guilt and overwhelm, puzzling over how they are going to make it to bedtime and survive the weekend without a TV, cell phone, tablet or iPad!

Children need to PLAY as MUCH as possible!

Play, play, play…and then play some more!

These were two of the big takes aways of a talk we heard from Amy Wilkes, our resident OT, at our Parents Evening recently.

She explained that children under the age of 3 should have NO exposure to technology at all and that play is the primary medium of learning for children and is essential to their early development.

There is lots to read out there explaining the benefits of limiting, and better yet avoiding, technology with children.

Here’s a lifeline list of ideas to the rescue:

  • Head outside to the pool, jungle gym, trampoline, sandpit, trees, bikes, balls, volleyball net, soccer goals, or bats and wickets and have some good old fashioned SPORTING fun! Get those little bodies moving and running and expending energy, and best of all learning key motor skills!
  • Build forts with duvets, blankets, pillows and cushions and let the fort magic happen! This is a fun activity for children on their own, or together as a family! Make it extra fun by having a picnic in the fort, or even building an outside fort.
  • Put up a children’s tent, or a family tent, in the garden and build Lego, engage in fantasy play, play board games, or star gaze and spend the night in your sleeping bags having an adventure! Great for a weekend activity and definitely one that will get the little one’s excited!
  • Creative gardening in their own patch of garden! Let them plant and experience the miracle of how things grow. Then cook with the food when it’s harvested for a wonderful longer term learning experience!
  • Baking in the kitchen and making something delicious! Get those bowls and mixers out and expect mess and noise, but most of all FUN and JOY!
  • Make a play dough station where they can create and use their imaginations.
  • Open the pot or Tupperware cupboard and see what fantastic noises come out of it! Little drummers are in the making! Most importantly, get them to tidy up afterwards to learn responsibility.
  • Painting on the windows or bath tub for some super colourful fun! Wash it off together!
  • Create a cuddle tub where your little one can go for quiet time activities like reading, fantasy play with dolls and cars, Legos and blocks, or animals. Better yet play together if there’s enough space in your cuddle tub.

Together we can conquer the detrimental effects of screen time on little brains and bring back healthy, happy family activities that invite engagement, connection, bonding and love!

By Barbara Cooper