This post is part of my Homeschool Preschool 101 Series, where I share everything you need to know to make homeschool preschool work for you and your child! In this series, you’ll learn…
- How We do Super-Relaxed Homeschool Preschool
- 10 Tips to Limit Screen-Time for Good!
- Kindergarten Readiness: What does my Preschooler Really Need to Know?
- Advice from Five Expert Homeschool Preschool Mamas
Psst… I share a lot of tips in this post! Be sure to pin the image below for later if you don’t have time to read it all now.
Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links. I only recommend products I know and love!
Is screen time taking over your house these days? If you’ve ever tried to limit screen time for kids, you know that it can be a potential minefield ready to explode. You know that too much screen time isn’t the best for our toddlers or preschoolers. You’ve read the articles describing the negative effects of screen time on our little ones’ brains, emotions, and social skills.
Too much screen-time can sabotage your homeschool preschool right from the start!
You’re convinced there’s got to be a better way…
So, like any good mama, you decide to do something about it.
Maybe you start with a quick Pinterest search for screen-free homeschool preschool activities. (Hey, that’s probably how you found me, right?)
You whip up a quick list of all the Pinterest and Instagram-worthy crafts and adorable activities you’ll do with your child.
You make a giant sign for your front yard that says “No Screens Allowed!” (OK, maybe you don’t do that just yet.)
You excitedly declare your home a screen-free zone, once and for all!
And what happens?
Maybe you and your little one squeeze out a few days of no TV, tablets, or phones. You start on Monday, but after Wednesday, you’re just plain worn out. Would a little TV show here and there hurt? You could get some laundry done in peace, right? Those Pinterest craft supplies lay unopened in the closet where you stuffed them. Somehow, screen-time keeps creeping back and it’s screen wars all over again.
Something is missing, mama.
What you need is more than a few cute screen-free activities. You’re searching for something deeper than just a “chores for screens” reward system. You want to really unplug and unlock your toddler or preschooler.
Well, I’ve been there, too. I think we all have at one point relied on screen time as a sanity saver, right? No egos allowed here. I used to be just as guilty of the Pinterest-crazy screen-free cycle. Promise.
But these days? We do things differently. While we certainly aren’t tantrum-free, we have family movie nights just like everyone else, and we have bad days because we’re, like, humans, ya know… But, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve tackled screen time for good.
I have a preschool aged son (and a baby girl on the way!) and instead of being glued to screens or tablets all day, my son gets the gifts of really living his life. Being free from screens has been a huge benefit for our homeschool preschool, too!
So, do you want to join me? Are you finally ready to get free from those toddler or preschooler screen-time battles? Then I challenge you… no, I dare you to try these ten simple steps to limit screen-time.
Step #1: Find Your Why
Do you dream for your child to be a consumer or a creator? Too much sensory overload from media means children become consumers, not creators. The consumer mentality is robbing our little ones of their individuality! When we talk to our children, we hear cookie-cutter answers and unoriginal thoughts. If we just try to cut out screen time for the sake of being able to say our kids are screen free, we’re missing the point. And more importantly, it just won’t work long-term. Creators problem solve, invent, and (this is the best part) entertain themselves! If you put in the work (and trust me, it’s going to be hard work) I know that you can help unlock your child’s potential. Don’t let screens sidetrack your homeschool preschool!
Step #2: Create a Schedule or Routines
Having a consistent structure to your day frees you up to really live in each moment the way it is meant to be lived. Instead of worrying how on earth you can keep this kid entertained all day long, how can we make it a whole day with no screen time, you can focus at the task at hand, and live each moment one step at a time. Think about creating a balance of independent time and together time for your tot or preschooler.
Create a flexible schedule for:
- morning routine (wake up, breakfast, chores, get dressed)
- morning together time
- outside play time
- unstructured play time
- nap or resting time
- afternoon together time
- evening independent play time (this is where you get to make dinner in peace!)
- evening routine (clean up, bath, books, bedtime)
Step #3: Tame the Clutter
Does this picture happen in your home? A room stuffed with toys and games, ready to be played with. Yet, is your child playing? Is he learning? Too often the answer is no. Instead of playing with the abundance of toys, your little one is glued to a TV, tablet, or phone. Sound familiar?
Many times, too much clutter, even toy clutter can be overwhelming to kids. Instead of drawing them in, instead of inviting them into a world of play and imagination, this “stuffed to the brim” environment causes our toddlers and preschoolers to shut down and choose screen time instead.
(Psst… learn why you really can’t afford to not declutter toys!)
With that in mind, try these three easy strategies you can use to make your child’s play space truly inviting for real, imagination packed homeschool preschool.
- Say Yes to Less
- Create a Toy Rotation
- Organize With Purpose
Step #4: Handle the Backlash Like a Boss
Negative responses are inevitable when you start to limit screen time. It’s going to happen, there will be a tantrum, there will be backlash. That’s why you must have a game plan in place if you want to tame screens and keep your homeschool preschool on track!
Find your mantra and stick to it! I often use “Asked and answered. What else would you like to learn or talk about?” The amazing thing about finding your mantra is that it takes the fuel out from the fire. Instead of gearing yourself up for an argument or power struggle over limiting screen time or whatever the issue is at the time, you already know exactly what you’re going to say. Over time, your child will begin to predict what you’ll say as well, which means less arguing and fighting over these family issues.
Step #5: Create a Culture of Books
So, let’s address what I think is one of the most important ways you can spend your days with your little ones. Books, books, and more books! Quality books are so incredibly essential in your homeschool preschool.
A sure-fire tactic to limiting screen time and succeeding in homeschool preschool is to create a culture of books in your home. Read aloud time is one of the most effective ways to encourage your child to learn and grow.
Choose a “just-right” book for storytime. Do you ever get frustrated when you preschooler can’t choose a book to read? Just pick one already! Mama’s got things to do. Me, too. Then I had a realization. He’s looking for the “just-right” book. My son realizes the power of books. On some level, I think kids understand that a just-right book can speak to your soul, can open up a whole new world, or can allow you to journey again into a well-trodden familiar story.
To help you preschool choose a “just-right” book, try these ideas:
- Make books available everywhere! Place a book box in each room of the house.
- Borrow lots of books from your local library to get more variety!
- Provide books with a really great story. Avoid the easy-reader type books if possible.
- For non-fiction, choose books that pull your child in. Think big ideas, not just facts and figures.
- Get downright silly for storytime! Use voices, speed up and slow down, keep it interesting.
Want to do storytime like a pro? Take my free email course, 7 Days to Smarter Storytime! You’ll learn how to get the most out of read aloud time with your kids!
Step #6: Choose Music Instead of TV or Screens
I’m going to teach you one of my favorite switches that will not only make limiting screen time easier, but will offer those rich experiences for your child that you’re looking for in your homeschool preschool.
It’s so simple. Choose music instead of TV or tablets!
- Play music in the background to encourage longer periods of independent play.
- Play an instrumental song and make up your own words with your child.
- Use music to help with those difficult homeschool preschool transitions or times of the day when you typically would depend on screen time. Play a song as you clean up, do morning chores, or make dinner!
- Use your child’s favorite song as a reward for good behavior instead of screen-time rewards.
- Play music instead of using your kitchen timer. When the song is over, it’s time to switch gears.
- Use music to bridge the gap between your child’s wish for entertainment and his need for an unplugged childhood.
Step #7: Choose Passive Toys
You see, you may not realize it, but many of the toys in your child’s toy box are straight up sabotaging your efforts to limit screen time. These types of toys make it so much harder to create a quality homeschool preschool atmosphere! Instead, choose passive toys to fuel real play and learning in your homeschool preschool!
A few of our favorite passive toys are:
- Mega Bloks
- Magnet Blocks
- Train Table and tracks
- Cars and Diggers, and Trucks (with no batteries)
- Scarves and Towels
- Clips, Clothespins, and Things That Connect
- Bottles, Ice Cube Trays, or Things to Fill
- Boxes, Bowls, and Things That Stack
- Musical Instruments
- Stuffed Animals, Figurines
- Kitchen set or Toy Workbench
- Anything from nature: a stick, rocks and pebbles, etc.
Try these amazing toys to boost imagination!
Step #8: Encourage Independent Play
In independent play, your child is the master of his universe. He makes the rules, he makes the decisions, he’s the boss. This is what is so wonderful about independent play. Not only will it give you a few minutes to get chores done, make dinner or *gasp* even read a book, but it is so empowering for your child. Independent play is the one time during the day where your tot or preschooler gets to be the master of his own domain and solve problems all by himself. It’s a stepping stone to handling greater responsibility, too! Independent play is so important for teaching homeschool preschool!
To get started with independent play:
- Start slowly. Sit in silence beside them first, then move to another room while they play.
- Play to your child’s interests. Start with his favorite type of play!
- Encourage independent play with siblings or friends.
- Offer something just beyond his ability level to keep him interested.
Step #9: Get Outside Everyday!
Why is outdoor play so important for your homeschool preschool? What do we know about the amazing benefits it offers our children?
- Screen-time is out of sight, out of mind.
- Outside play improves attention span. Mamas rejoice! Researchers have found that exposure to green spaces can help lengthen the attention span in young kids. According to a study done in 2000, green spaces allow “neural inhibitory mechanisms to rest and recover from use.” What on earth does that mean? Simply put, when your kids play outside their brains heal and grow. Amazing right?
- Outside play encourages exercise. Preschoolers need to practice gross motor skills. It’s one of the hallmarks of childhood development! According to Early Childhood News, “As many as half of American children are not getting enough exercise… and risk factors like hypertension and arteriosclerosis are showing up at age 5.” If you want to protect the health of your kids, send them outside to play!
- Outside play helps regulate emotions. One of the key factors in outside play is that kids are usually the rule-makers. Outside play provides a safe, open environment for kids to test out boundaries and develop a sense of what works and what doesn’t as they play.
- Outside play helps regulate sleep. This means better naps and higher quality sleep at night! As the experts as the National Wildlife Federation say, “Regular doses of bright natural light help children stay more alert during the day, elevate their moods and make it easier to sleep at night.” A well-rested preschooler is ready to learn!
Step #10: Get Support
Is your homeschool preschool suffering from too much screen-time? You’re definitely not alone, mama! That’s why I want to invite you to join our community of mamas who are determined to tame screen time once and for all. In the Unplug + Unlock course, you’ll get access to life-changing lessons, practical tips for real success, and most importantly a community of moms just like you. Moms who are willing to unplug and go against the grain so that they can conquer screen time once and for all! Are you with us? Click here to enroll in the course!
Now, I know you’re ready to make your homeschool preschool a success right? Trust me, you can knock down that brick wall of too much screen-time. You can make screen-free living an essential part of your homeschool preschool way of life! Don’t forget to read the rest of the Homeschool Preschool 101 series for more tips and advice!