The summer holidays are almost upon us, and six weeks (or more) is a very long time. Keeping children occupied can be exhausting and expensive – and even the best of us will resort to screen time in the quest for a quiet life.
Screen time battles are every parent’s bugbear – but what if you could make time online a positive thing? Educational screen time is a real summer buzz word and there are lots of simple and cost-free ways to ensure your children are learning as they curl up with a tablet.
Here are our top five tips for educational screen time (or summer screen time minus the guilt!)
1. Find a fun competition
The internet is full of competitions, but we’ve spied this one from Discovery Education which will keep children entertained and learning during the long summer break. The Make Your World Bigger video challenge invites kids aged 7 – 11 to watch clips from some of Discovery’s best-known programmes, and be in with a chance to win goody bags packed with VR headsets, night vision googles, space shuttle kits and more.
Featuring content from Discovery Channel, Discovery Science and Animal Planet, the video challenge is completely FREE to enter – and aims to broaden children’s horizons during the long summer break. Kids simply need to watch a daily clip and collect fun facts to answer questions along the way.
It will also tempt youngsters away from their screens by signposting fun practical projects including star gazing, butterfly spotting and guitar making. Best of all, the challenge unlocks home access to Discovery Education Espresso’s digital learning service which boasts over 23,000 digital learning resources. Play along and be in with the chance of winning one of 10 Discovery Education goody bags! It’s quick and easy to register.
2. Enter the Summer Reading Challenge
The UK’s biggest reading event for children now has a fantastic website with book-themed games, competitions and videos. With contributions from some of our favourite children’s authors – including Holly Webb, Cressida Cowell and Anthony Horowitz – and the chance to win a signed copy of the latest Alex Rider book – there is plenty to keep kids switched on to reading.
Children can create their own online account to add the books they are reading and unlock special badges. They can also rate and review books and swap stories with other readers online. Visit your local library to register from 15 July.
3. Get Coding!
Coding is the future and it’s never been more important for children to learn basic programming. Thankfully it’s a lot more fun than it sounds – think designing your own computer game or app – and there are plenty of amazing free resources online to get kids started.
October will see the return of EU Code Week. Visit their website to access a host of coding resources for beginners of all ages.
4. Be Creative
Kids are naturally creative, and technology can help to boost confidence if they don’t feel at ease with a paintbrush or pen. The internet is full of fantastic apps and tools to help foster creativity, offering everything from step by step lessons for beginners to more advanced digital art projects for tweens.
Common Sense Media offers this great free guide to some of the best creative apps around. It’s easy to follow, categorised by age and backed by independent expert reviews, giving you peace of mind that they’re spending time online wisely.
5. Get close to nature
It’s counter-intuitive, but what if screen time could be a gateway to the great outdoors? We’ve found some great stuff online to tempt tech savvy children away from their tablets. Budding bird-spotters and wildlife fans will love the games, audio books and videos on the RSPB website. There are also lots of fun activities, such as projects to make binoculars and build minibeast homes.
Green fingered kids should also check out the RHS site, which has a host of fun gardening activities, an amazing ‘build your own bee hotel’ project, and lots of ideas for easy plants and veg to grow. And finally, we’ve spotted some great educational resources on the Geffrye Museum website. The London based Museum of the Home has a fantastic Kids Zone, where children can design their own garden and learn about gardening through history.
We hope these tips for educational screen time will keep your children learning over the holidays, and help you feel less guilty about time spent on screens. Enjoy the summer!