It’s back to school season, which for many of us means that we are establishing routines and getting back into the groove of getting the kids ready for school each morning. Yet, going back to school looks different this year. Almost all schools have screen-based learning plugged in to their plan for the Fall. This means that the 7+ hours per day the average American kid spends on screen-based entertainment (playing video games, social media, watching shows, apps, etc.) could happen in addition to all of those hours of school screen time, plus homework!

It’s for this reason that we need offline time to be part of our weekly routines, too. So, unplug for back to school by making sure you get those breaks from screens one day per week.

Getting Back Into the Routine

This summer, I’ll admit that my Screen-Free Saturdays were a little less consistent than I would have liked. Sometimes they turned into a Screen-Free Sunday instead. Sometimes, little things slipped in and turned my screen-free time into screen-filled. For me, sometimes it was a board meeting or a last minute need to follow up on something via email or a big news headline that popped up as an ad while we were listening to music that I needed to check in on. For the kids, it was a spontaneous request from a friend to video chat, which turned into playing a logic game on the tablet until we would laugh and say, “Oh no! It’s Screen-Free Saturdays– oops!” Those little moments aren’t a big deal in the scheme of things, but I always felt like I wasn’t totally rested when I came back to the CCFC virtual office on Monday. And the kids weren’t rested either. 

Fast forward to next week when the kids start school remotely. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s going to be hard. One of my favorite first graders will be spending 5 hours on the screen with his classmates as part of their school’s plan. He told me, “I don’t want to go back to school. I don’t want to be just sitting at the computer all day.” For students who thrive in the bustling, active, social arena of school, online distance learning is tough, especially in this format. It’s more important than ever to make sure that we preserve some offline, active play for kids as they spend their days on screens without choice.

Our Getting Ready for Screen-Free Saturdays resource has all the language you need to {re}start the conversation. Then, revisit our activity suggestions, which have been published as guides for you:

Plus, our resource library keeps growing! Scroll down to see how to help promote Screen-Free Saturdays in your school or district!

Let Them Play

Our August 24th webinar “Back to School during COVID” for early educators produced some amazing advice for honoring kids in the time of distance learning. The online event featured Drs. Nancy Carlsson-Paige and Denisha Jones. Read these great tips for helping young children thrive while remote or in-person. 

Screen Breaks

Throughout the week, it’s also important for us to have screen breaks. Check out this toolkit from Yoga Ed., an organization that promotes mindfulness, movement, and social emotional learning for communities worldwide. The kit provides 3 breathing exercises, 3 chair yoga poses, and 3 brain breaks. 

Community Connections

Children enrolled in school need real breaks built into their weeks. That’s why we’re partnering with school districts to help them to spread a simple message: go screen-free one day per week. Interested in promoting Screen-Free Saturdays at your school for the benefit of children, families, and educators?

Check out our brand new SCHOOL ORGANIZING TOOLKIT! It features all that you need to build a campaign at your school, including a letter to parents, new SFS pledge cards, flyers, and more.

Plus, share your stories with us. We’ll be highlighting stories of successful screen breaks this month, and we’d love to share yours! Reach out by replying to this email or tagging us on social media @screenfreeweek or using the hashtag #screenfreesaturdays (after Saturday of course!).

Happy unplugging,

Rachel Franz

P.S. Make sure to stay connected with all of our Screen-Free Saturdays ideas, resources, and fun by taking the pledge: