‘Screen-Free Week’ fun at schools

By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
Windsor - posted Wed., Apr. 6, 2011
Volunteers from Girl Scout Troop 151 read books to kids during ‘Screen-Free Week.’ Photos by Jennifer Coe.
Volunteers from Girl Scout Troop 151 read books to kids during ‘Screen-Free Week.’ Photos by Jennifer Coe.

Children were spotted all over Windsor last week engaged in some unfamiliar activities: They were seen playing board games with their parents, running around outside, painting, and even reading books. These children turned off their televisions for the entire week in celebration of “Screen-Free Week.”

During this annual week, families are encouraged to get out of the habit of watching television and replace that time with a more interactive or creative activity.

Formerly known as “TV-Turnoff Week,” the program is national in its scope and has been renamed “Screen-Free Week” to include computers, laptops, iPads, and more. According to the program’s website, “Screen-Free Week is an annual celebration where children, families, schools and communities turn off screens and turn on life. Instead of relying on screens for entertainment, participants read, daydream, explore, enjoy nature and enjoy spending time with family and friends.”

In an organized effort, more than 70 children from Windsor attended the first event of “Screen-Free Week” at Poquonock School on April 4. “Each school has created a special family event and each school has been invited to attend all of the five schools’ programs,” said Family Resource Coordinator Betsey Lepak. “The FRCs, along with several school Action Teams, coordinated specific events to encourage and offer families a chance to turn off the TV.”

At the book swap, kids came to trade books, read and listen to stories told by retired educator Jim Harriman and a handful of Girl Scout volunteers. The stories Harriman told used extremely descriptive language and were told in an animated manner.

“I think it’s marvelous,” Harriman said about the event. Harriman said he used to get frustrated with his students’ lack of attention span, which he estimated to be about eight minutes. “As live performers, we compete with TV,” he said.

Windsor parents all seemed to be on-board with the “Screen-Free Week” and took it as an opportunity to establish a better, more healthy routine with their kids.

“It’s important to take every opportunity to read,” said one mom, who also said that her children do not watch TV during the week at all. Other parents had to make more of an adjustment to their daily routines.

“We’re trying to not watch TV at all,” said Kimberly, mom to 7-year-old Kamryn. “It’s not hard,” she said. “We just have to make it a habit.”

Another mom said communication between spouses was important in order to make it happen. Vice Principal Kimberly Woods said, “We have to refocus. What did we do before TV came out?”

Here are some ideas of things kids can do instead of relying on screens for entertainment:

Take a walk around your neighborhood

Play in the yard

Bake brownies, cookies, etc.

Practice riding your bike

Write a short book and draw the pictures to go with it

Help out with chores around the house

Drawing, coloring, painting or crafting

Practice a musical instrument

Have a jump rope competition

Make a simple obstacle course around the house

Play board games with a family member

Read a book (or two, or three)

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