While some screen time may be educational, nothing beats good old fashioned playtime. When young children watch too much television, their creativity is adversely effected, their communication skills are hindered and temper tantrums increase. I have observed this in my own children, however there is a mountain of research to back this up.
Paint pots all lined up
Research aside, how much is too much television for a young child? In an ideal world, actually none, but sometimes parents do just need a break in order to have a cup of tea in peace. Problems begin when we come to rely on the television (or any other screens) as a babysitter, rather than spending time with little ones.
Take them bike riding
Their imagination is so free and open, they are often surprisingly happy with simple toys and self directed activities. Below are our favorite alternative ideas to watching the box - once you try a few of these, you'll be having too much fun to even consider turning on the TV.
Hit the park
1. Indoor Activities:
Prepare some really imaginative and inspiring materials for indoor art and craft. There are great websites around for this and MyKidCraft (www.mykidcraft.com) is definitely our favorite.
Take to the kitchen and prepare a meal together, you could visit Kid Recipes (www.kidrecipes.com.au) for some excellent cooking ideas.
Take a trip to the local library and select books to read aloud as a family.
Learn a brand new skill, like knitting or weaving.
Organise a dress up box with simple to make creations (crown, wand, dinosaur tail, mouse tail etc).
2. Outdoor Activities
There are plenty of parks, bike tracks, beaches and fun events out there to explore. Visit Weekend Notes (www.weekendnotes.com) for the latest updates on events in your local area.
Go to the local nursery and let the kids choose some plants/vegetables for the garden (if you have no garden, you could make a miniature fairy garden or dinosaur garden together).
Set up a giant cubby house under a shady tree somewhere.
Arrange a fresh sand pit or water play station.
Maybe try water play or have a little tea party
Have you tried going TV free for a day, a weekend or even a month - how did it go? Could you add any tips or words of warning?