Navigating screen time for my kids has at times felt like solving a complex puzzle. I have three young children, and I know there are negative impacts from too much screen time. At the same time, my kids are drawn to screens. They love watching cartoons, playing screen-based games, and even doing video dance classes. I have wondered, “How much screen time is the right amount?” and “Are some screen time tools more or less beneficial than others?” Parents may also wonder how screen time can fit into the workings of a Montessori home. Over the years, I have used a handful of strategies to help solve the screen time puzzle in our home. Here are a few ideas for how to approach Montessori at home screen time:
Consider How Kids Should Spend Time When Developing a Montessori at Home Screen Time Approach
One of the ways I have navigated screen time in our home is to consider how I want my kids to spend their time. There are many things I want them to do that don’t utilize screens. By being intentional about the things I want my kids to do throughout the day, I focus less on taking away screens and more on facilitating opportunities for meaningful activities.
Montessori at home emphasizes many types of activities and experiences for kids. Teaching kids practical skills is a priority. Additionally, spending time outside and playing with meaningful toys are both important. As parents, we can focus on facilitating these experiences and making them accessible for kids at home. Providing tools for an outdoor gardening experience is one example of how parents can mediate Montessori-based activities. (The Montessori By Mom Shoots and Sprouts Toolbox makes this easy.) By prioritizing these activities before bringing in screens, there is less emphasis on taking away screens. This perspective also assures me that my kids are doing the activities that are most important for our family.
In recent years, we have implemented a list of “must-dos” in our house before screen time is available for our kids. This is especially relevant on days that our kids are home all day, such as during school holidays and summer breaks. Our kids must get dressed, brush their teeth, read, spend time outside, and practice piano before spending time on screens. While screen time is not unlimited after these activities, this practice ensures that some priority activities are achieved before we turn screens on. Some other ideas for activities to complete before screen time are homework, household chores, a walk outside, or caring for a pet.
Set Consistent Limits And Boundaries Around Screens
Another idea for how to approach Montessori at home screen time is to set consistent limits and boundaries around screens. Giving children freedom within limits is an important part of the Montessori philosophy. Children are often given agency and freedom to explore within the limits and boundaries designated for the area. One of our household rules is only allowing screens at specific times of the day. I have found that when I incorporate screens at designated times, like after lunch, it becomes part of our routine and my kids stop asking for screen time throughout the day.
Abandon Screen Time Guilt
There’s No One ‘Right’ Approach
Kelly Marie is a former scientist and mother of three young kids. She enjoys writing about her experiences in parenting and regularly creates free printable resources for parents and teachers for her blog Hey Kelly Marie. She currently lives in Kentucky with her family.