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Powering Off & Reconnecting With Family

Family using devices and not interacting

 

By Kim Devlin, The Learning Experience Teacher of the Year 2017

Remember what summer was like when you were a kid? If you’re in your 40s now like I am, we were outside from breakfast to dinner. We came in to eat and use the bathroom, and that was it! We didn’t sit around the house playing video games, scrolling through our phones and tablets, or watching TV. We were rolling down hills, running through the grass, climbing trees, and exploring through the woods!

I know most of us work full-time and it’s hard to go to work, commute back home, make dinner, and spend quality time with our kids before their bedtime routine begins. Regardless of our busy schedules, it is important to find time to “power off” and spend quality time connecting with family without the distraction of devices. 

Why is it so important to power off? 

Children get lost in their electronics. Frankly, I feel that adults do, too. We are losing touch with nature. With our eyes glued to our devices, we are missing the little things. Similarly, when their eyes are on their tablets, our children aren’t experiencing the natural world around them: the birds nesting outside their window, the turtles on sandy beaches, or the family of deer foraging in the bushes. 

So let’s lead by example! Let’s put down our phones. No devices at mealtime, no devices during family time! Let’s be present, living in the moment with our kids. They only get to be young once. Before you know it, they will be off to prom and college, and we will have missed out on their little daily accomplishments along with the silly stories and giggles that make family time so precious. So let’s take some time each day to “power off” and reconnect.

I found a few ways to get my own four children to “power off” and enjoy spending family time without screens:

Fun activities your family can do together 

  • Visit your community's website for information about upcoming activities: The website should have a schedule of family-friendly activities your community has planned such as fireworks, concerts, or even carnivals. You might even learn about local kid-friendly attractions. My local community park has a splash park. We pack a lunch and play in the water and on the playground, and it’s free! 
  • Crafts: Use what materials you have around the house and let them create. I save and reuse paper towel rolls, and turn them into animals, buildings, or pretend telescopes for pirate games. No need to spend money. Reduce, reuse and recycle!
  • Board games: Introduce your children to your favorite board games, discover new ones as a family, or even create your own. Games teach children the importance of mutual respect, following rules, and fair play, all while motivating your family to socialize with devices nearby. Games like Charades, Sorry!, and Pictionary are just a few common favorites that can help you pass down the joy of family time.
  • Nature walks: Explore outdoor areas around you. Local parks are a great place to visit. They’re a great opportunity for picnics, kite-flying, and bird-watching, and they give children the space they need to run around and learn about their natural environment.
  • Outdoor activities in your neighborhood: Remember the games you used to play with friends in your neighborhood? Simon says, Mother May I, and 4 Square are still fun for everyone. Playing outdoors is also a good opportunity to give your family the opportunity to create your own games, discover new hide-and-seek spots, ride your bikes together, and find new reasons to enjoy your residential areas.
  • Cook together: Make fun treats with your kids that they can share with their friends. Choose ingredients for homemade trail mix as a family. Kids love getting their hands dirty while baking cookies and helping contribute to making a family meal. Take advantage of this time to bond, turning cooking into a fun, loving learning experience.

Keeping kids involved and “powered off” doesn’t have to be expensive. The important thing is to stay connected, and not just during summer. These examples are ideas we can implement all year round!

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