7 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Have Productive Screen Time

As summer begins, it may seem like your child is now staring at a screen 24/7. The Safe, Smart & Social blog had seven digital safety experts who are also parents provide their best advice for teaching kids to be productive with their online time. Those are:

  1. Teach self-moderation: Learning to control your screen time is an essential skill these days, and one even adults struggle with.
  2. Don’t allow devices at the dinner table: A family dinner is more than just sharing meal, it’s also about sharing stories and experiences.
  3. Block distractions: There are many browser apps that will block Facebook, Instagram, and more so your child (or you!) can be productive when you need to be.
  4. Show how screen time can be productive: Teach your child time management through the Pomodoro technique (25 minutes of work, 5 minutes of break, scaled as age appropriate) and show them how online tools can be used for working together on a group project as well as socializing.
  5. Lead by example: Don’t spend all your time on your phone as well, and consider providing the WiFi password only after chores have been done.
  6. Create a screen time log: Have your kids create a log of the sites they visit and time spent at each (or check their browser history at the end of the day).
  7. Set weekday screen time limits: Set limits on screen time and expectations for what must be done before getting online, with extra screen time as something to be earned.

Be sure to read the full article to find out more about each of these strategies.


Photo © 2011 by Jessica Fless-Hill under Creative Commons license.

Top 10 Reasons to Play Board Games with Your Kids

Illinois PTA has shared why the new renaissance in board games provides a great way for your family to spend time together. The Geek Dad blog has an article on the top 10 reasons to play board games with your kids. Each reason has the theory behind it, how it has worked in practice, and a suggested game to go with it. Those reasons are:

  1. Taking Turns: One of the first skills that games teach us is to wait for our turn, something even the youngest players can do.
  2. Math Skills: Whether it is adding up scores or learning the probabilities of rolling two dice, games provide opportunities to practice some math skills.
  3. Mental Agility: Exercising your brain is important as you age, and board games can help build that into a lifelong habit.
  4. Thinking Ahead: More complex games require you to think about more than just what you are doing this turn. Learning to plan ahead and think about what will happen depending on the choices you make is an important skill to develop.
  5. Actions and Consequences: Related to thinking ahead, board games provide positive and negative consequences to your actions in a smaller world where the cause-and-effect is more easily seen.
  6. Making Tough Choices: Board games often require a player to make choices between similarly good (or bad) options, providing an opportunity to learn how to think critically about risks and rewards.
  7. Teamwork: Not all board games are “I win, you lose.” Cooperative board games pit all the players against a problem, whether it is rescuing people from a burning building, fighting the spread of disease across the world, or collecting treasures from a sinking island.
  8. Being a Good Sport: No one likes a sore loser or a gloating winner. Board games provide an opportunity to teach your children to be gracious whether they win or lose and to focus on the experience of playing and doing their best.
  9. Cutting the Cord: Board games provide a fun way to spend time with face-to-face interaction, making it easier to pull even the most dedicated video gamer away from their screen.
  10. Building a Bond: When you look back on your childhood, what you remember most are often the experiences you shared with your parents. Board games provide an opportunity to build those memories and bonds with your children.

The article concludes with a bonus reason as well—fun! Be sure to check out the full article for new game ideas for your family.

Minute by Minute Strategies to Build Good Study Habits

As the school year wraps up, final exams loom for many students. And parents looking to build good study habits in their children may be dreading the effort to get them to study. For many students, studying means filling in a review sheet or rereading a chapter, but that may not be the best way to study for kids who need to interact with materials in order to master it. Edutopia has a blog post on how to structure study time for adolescents and strategies to get them to study.

Structuring Study Time

For parents, getting a child to sit down and study is often the most difficult part of the process. Edutopia recommends setting a session-minute goal of one minute per grade level done twice a day. So a sixth-grader would do two six-minute study sessions, while a tenth-grader would do two ten-minute sessions. It may not seem like much, but those two six-minute sessions done over five days add up to an hour of studying, and because the time is short, your student is less likely to be slumped back in their chair and more likely to be actively reviewing materials. Other tips include:

  • Determine when the tests will happen.
  • Work with your child to figure out how much study time they need for each test.
  • Determine what study materials they already have.

Study Strategies

Once you’ve set up study time with your child, you both need to figure out what strategies for studying will work best for them. Not every child retains information best by reading it or by asking and answering questions. Edutopia provides 11 other ways to study:

  1. Flashcards
  2. Categorizing
  3. Word Combining
  4. Song Lyrics
  5. Picture Notes
  6. Talk-Through
  7. Picture Walk
  8. Mnemonic Devices
  9. Oral Visualization
  10. Perspective Talk
  11. Superhero Letter

Check out the full article at Edutopia and download the study strategies sheet to help your child prepare for their exams and build good study habits.

Help Your Child Find Their Summer Stride

You may be aware of the “summer slide.” It is kids sliding backwards in their learning over the summer months. Research indicates that children in low-income households fall behind an average of 2 months in reading over the summer, and differences in children’s summer learning experiences during elementary school years can affect whether they earn a high school diploma or continue on to college.

National PTA and Be A Learning Hero have partnered for the past several years to help bring families the information and resources they need to help their child be successful. As this school year wraps up, they are now highlighting the Summer Stride—five things families can do this summer to fight the summer slide.

  1. See the big picture. Look at your child’s grades and assessments to identify areas where they are doing well and areas where they are struggling. Learn what was expected of your child for this year and what will be expected next year.
  2. Have fun! Summer provides some extra hours of daylight and chances to do more as a family. Look for opportunities in your daily routine to provide fun games and learning opportunities.
  3. Discover your community. Check out free community or library programs that have academic support and activities for kids. Take a short road trip—even just across town by bus or train—to visit a park, zoo, museum, or historical place you’ve never been to before. Talk with your child about what you want to learn during your visit.
  4. Support life skills. Learning isn’t just reading and math, but also the skills we all need to develop as we grow. Help your child develop a growth mindset, teaching them that trying new things is what helps us grow as a person, that failures are opportunities to learn, and that working to do better the next time will help build their confidence to take on anything.
  5. Let them see you learn, too! Children learn at least as much from what we do as from what we say, so be a great role model for your child by letting them see you learning and working hard to achieve your goals, especially when it’s tough. Check out a book from the library when they do, and let them see you sitting down to read as well.

Be sure to read the full article at BeALearningHero.org to help your child find their summer stride and fight the summer slide with the resources available there.