The Summer of Scorekeeping & Minimizing Screen Time

The Summer of Scorekeeping & Minimizing Screen Time

 After a year and a half of online learning and limited affordable summer camp options, the hubs and I began to worry about exactly how much screen time Molly and Jack would be getting, particularly when we were working and they were lazing about this smmer.

While some days of camp,time outside with a vaccinated babysitter, family vacations within Ontario, and visits with Nana and Papa are all on the schedule there will also be a lot of downtime.

I am a big fan of kids having unstructured play time, on the other hand I have deadlines and Zoom meetings, and two kids fighting or complaining they're bored often leads to screen time to keep the peace, quiet, and deadlines met.

So, the night before the last day of school Chris and I sat out on our back porch to brainstorm some ideas on keeping screen time to an absolute minimum. Then, I had an idea.

Like most parents, I had seen the images of notes from parents to their kids doling out the Wifi password each day ONLY after they had completed a series of chores. This popular online parental trope gave me an idea.

Image Courtesy of Social News Daily

That night we decided during working hours the kids would need to earn their screen time. We came up with a list of activities that earned them screen time. Some earned at minute for minute other items, like a successful 45 minute session with their tutor would earn them double screen time. 

Essentially we gamified screen time. Within those parameters things like pre-approved online drawing, crafts, and educational tutorials do not count as screen time. A minimum of one hour of reading a day is on the list as required, but again completing the reading earns them screen time. So far the kids love the process and when they don't feel like doing the items on the list they'll draw, work on crafts, or play together quietly. 

Here's the list of items our kids can complete to earn screen time. Ironically some of it involves being on screen, but we're okay with that.

  • Reading
  • Writing letters or postcards
  • Playing with the dog outside
  • 15 minutes of typing tutor games
  • Chores (what needs to be done is determined on a day by day basis)
  • A productive, focused session with their tutor
  • Tutoring homework
  • Speech therapy sessions (this one is only for Molly)
  • Walk the dog with mom

I'm happy to report a week in this is working! Another thing we did to get the kids excited was to join the TD Summer Reading Program. The kids can search for ideas on books to read, log what they have read, and write recommendations for other kids. The goal at this point is 20 books each for the summer. 

How are you keeping your kids off screens this summer?
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