As we embark on our 13th week (but who’s counting!) of quarantine, social distancing, and remote learning we parents are trying to find new ways cut down on screen time. How do we entertain and engage our kids off-screen? While being outside and playing in nature is ideal, many of us live in cities or towns where parks are closed, or we are working from home and can not be outside during the day.
If your house is anything like mine (with three kids under the age of eight), the kids destroy one room at a time with forts and make-believe playsets. While this can be frustrating to watch as my neat house is turned upside down, I am learning to let go and let them play as it is not only less screen time, the imaginative playtime is helping them develop important life skills.
Did you know that children learn tons when they’re allowed to play freely and independently? And that imaginative play, old fashioned free form play, offers multiple benefits? According to the nonprofit, The Genius of Play, play builds important life skills like creativity, communication and empathy.
It may sound silly, but in fact nothing more than just allowing children to be children and express their inner imagination and fantasy worlds can lead to many important social and emotional skills development. Even though play has so many positive benefits for kids, a study published last year found that 75 percent of children under 12 are not getting enough free play time. This is due, at least in part, to the busy schedules we keep for our children and the demands put on them from school and extracurricular activities. Maybe while we are home due to the threats of Covid 19 our kids can have more time to play freely and let their imaginations run wild?
So, how do we entertain our kids off screen and help them play more in these crazy times? Here are a few of our family’s go-to activities for screen-free independent play:
- Bug-hunting in the backyard (we love the Bug Bungalow by B. Toys)
- Dance parties (My kids love Kidz Bop)
- Doll and stuffy tea parties (I like the unbreakable tea sets from Floss & Rock)
- Big floor puzzles like the ones made by Crocodile Creek
- Dress-up and costumes - our favorites are Princess Twirl dresses from Mini & Me!