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When I was a little girl, I was fascinated by my friend’s family. Nell’s parents decided that a television would not be the star of the show in their living room. In fact, the entire house was void of a black box. I can still picture how often someone in her home would be relaxing in a recliner—reading.

And after reading a few books of my own, I encountered Roald Dahl’s wisdom in Charlie in the Chocolate Factory:

“The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set”

Six Tips for Screen-Free Summer Days

Fast forward 32 years and screens are everywhere. I don’t believe tablets, smart phones, and laptops are evil; we use these items as tools in our own homeschool. However, I think we need to be intentional and not allow screens to become an untamed beast. Here are six tips to help you enjoy some screen free summer days.

Turn Off Your Phone

When you head to the lake or the library, turn off your phone. Teach your kids how to be fully present by being fully present yourself. Jim Elliot gave us these wise words, “Wherever you are, be all there.”

Be all there. It’s challenging to do that when texts are beeping and Facebook is buzzing. Turn off your phone. Go climb a tree with your child. Blow bubbles. Stomp in a puddle. Slip down a slide. You don’t have to do this all the time, every time, but when you do it, be all there.

And don’t worry about photos. If you turn on your phone to snap a photo, you might-maybe-might get sucked in to Instagram. If you really need a photo, bring your camera (it probably takes better photos anyway).

Let Your Kids Plan a Day Trip

If your kids are old enough, give them a few guidelines (a budget and how far you’re willing to travel), and commission them with the task of planning a day trip. They will learn how to research, some basic economics, and local geography. If siblings work together on this project, it will teach them cooperation and compromise. Imagine how much they will enjoy taking the trip they planned!

Hang Out with Friends

I know some moms are worried about their children in a constant state of vegetation while in front of a screen; however, that’s not my biggest concern. I am afraid screens are replacing relationships. I desperately want my children to be connected to others.

Turn off the screens and invite friends over for a play date. Plan a pizza and game night. Pack a lunch and head to the park or meet up at the bowling alley. Start a book club. Talk and laugh and play—foster relationships.

Go Camping (or Fishing or Hiking)

I know some of you just sighed or rolled your eyes, but nature is the best place to go screen free. When we step into the woods our senses are fully engaged with new sights, new smells, and new sounds.

If you aren’t a happy camper, don’t worry. You could also just go fishing or hiking. Hiking doesn’t require much gear and you can be back in the safety of your comfy, bug-free bed at night.

Some of our favorite memories are made in the great outdoors—the easiest place in the world to be screen free!

Take Advantage of Programs at Your State Park

If you aren’t sure where to start with nature, check out your local state parks and find out what they have to offer. Our parks have been an amazing starting point for us. We’ve had opportunities to shoot arrows, to explore a pond, and to learn about medicinal plants.

Our state parks also have a variety of incentive programs where you can earn patches or pins. This has been motivating for my youngest son; he wants to earn every pin for every state park. Going outside (and going screen-free) is often his idea because he is excited about our next state park adventure.

Choose Audio Books for Car Trips

As you head to all of these marvelous summer places: the park, the pool, a picnic—choose audio books over tablets. Audiobooks can introduce the same beloved characters to your entire family at once creating discussion and connection between family members.

I hope you enjoy your summer days with your kids, and I hope these tips will help you be fully there while you teach your children to do the same.

 

About Ami Brainerd

God’s grace runs wild through Ami's life, and she asks daily for {more} grace as she walks by the way with her two boys.  She makes sure her kids read oodles of living books, get-out-and-get-the-stink-off with frequent field trips, and have plenty of time to explore their interests–keeping them exceptionally curious. She chronicles her homeschooling adventures {and disasters} at Walking by the Way; she also manages the free curriculum-sharing site, Homeschool Share.

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