A Screen-free Holiday Break with Children

Let’s face it: holiday movies are a lot like holiday treats--yummy at the time, but empty calories.

Nothing against movie marathons, video games and social media during the colder months from Halloween to the New Year, but our children already get ample digital connection, so much more than you did as a kid.

BBC News reported, “Children aged five to 16 spend an average of six and a half hours a day in front of a screen compared with around three hours in 1995.” And The Atlantic caused a stir with the article, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

So whether your holiday goal is to go completely screen-free, or you just wish to supplement that screen time with some real life interaction, we have a few simple suggestions to make the most of your holiday quality time.

Read Together

Reading as a family may help improve literacy, boost school performance, and even generate more family happiness.

Thanks to public libraries, reading together is free.

The hardest part can be choosing.

The national library, The Library of Congress, maintains the site Read.gov with links to recommended book lists, free classic books available online, and other resources. All kinds of other apps and websites give recommendations.

For an alternative to reading aloud, try audiobooks. They are great for a hands-free, vocal-cord-saving reading experience.

Resources include:

● The public library

● Online free book websites

● Subscription audiobook services

● Even YouTube has some audiobooks

However you go about it, reading a book together for a few minutes each day (or a long drive with an audiobook) can help your children fall in love with learning, while you enjoy quality time together.

Cook Together

In most homes, nothing says “holidays” like certain foods.

If food isn’t part of your holiday tradition, it’s a great tradition to start!

Often, though, holiday cooking involves just the adults slaving away for beautifully presented meals and guests to feed.

Yet cooking can be a family experience.

With the number of children’s cookbooks available, it’s also possible to let your children pick a recipe and largely sit in the driver’s seat themselves, while preparing a dish.

Other useful skills, such as setting the table and cleaning up after a meal, also go along with the family cooking experience. You can choose healthier versions of holiday favorites, and teach children about nutrition and choices. They can be involved in the shopping and discuss budgets.

One recommendation: if cooking is a new activity for your kiddos, or you have young children in the kitchen, we recommend you choose an occasion when the stakes are low: you have plenty of time, and failure doesn’t particularly matter.

If you are preparing for a special event or a hard deadline, cooking with children can be stressful instead of bringing a family together.

But the good news about starting a cooking tradition, is your children can be more and more helpful each holiday season!

Make Art Together

A break from school is the perfect time to learn a new craft or make art together.

Even for the non-artistic types, art builds great skills:

● Better manual skills,

● Greater visual skills,

● More confidence,

● And a boost in seemingly unrelated skills, like math and science.

Arts and crafts can also be relaxing!

While choices are nearly limitless (yay, Pinterest!), age-appropriate coloring books with our favorite gel pens are a great, go-anywhere crowd pleaser at any age.

Sewing with kids is also much easier than it sounds and helps improve focus, as well as improving those manual skills.

Whatever you choose, check out our guide to the best scissors for your projects.

Have other ideas for a simple screen-free holiday break? Comment below and let us know!