Managing kids screen time is one of the huge challenges of modern parenting. It was much easier for ancient parents since there were fewer influencing programs on our screens. In fact, when you missed a program, you had to wait for the following day.
Currently, we have smartphones, tables, video games, Netflix, PVRs and much more, which makes it even more difficult to keep up with them all, create reasonable limits as well as evaluate them. Furthermore, it is even more difficult for us, adults, to disconnect from these devices since they make our lives easier many time. Indeed, much has been published on this topic to make sense out of it all. However, it remains one of the huge subjects of conversions during parent’s meetings.
How do you manage screen period in your house? Do you have limits set? And how much is enough?
Have a Conversation With Your Family
Have you kids understand the importance of sitting less and moving more, especially staying within healthy weight limits. Explain to them that they will be more energetic, which will help them out in developing or perfecting a new skill, such as cycling and could create much fun with friends. Importantly, affirm them that you will do the same.
Lead by a Good Example
It is important for you as a parent to lead by example through limiting your time on screen to no more than three hours in a day. If your children observe that you are obeying your rules, then they will be more obliged to do the same.
Track Active Time versus Screen Time
Start logging time spent on the screen by your family, including activities such as DVD watching, playing video games as well as using the computer for activities that are not school or work related. Then compare it with the level of physical activity they take part. This way, you will grasp a sense of the changes needed.
Be Creative by Making Screen Time Active Time
Engage in an active activity when you spend time on the screen. You can do yoga, stretch as well as lift weights. Alternatively, you can challenge your family to see one who can do most leg lifts, push-ups or jump jacks during television commercial breaks.
Set Screen Time Restrictions
However difficult it is, make a house rule that bounds screen time to three hours in a day. Notably, put into effect the rule!
Make your Bedrooms Screen-free
Do not have any computer or TV in your kid’s bedroom. In fact, children who have a television in their bedroom tend to have about one and half hours more on the screen every day as compared to those who do not have. Furthermore, it keeps children away from the rest of the family by keeping them in their rooms.
Mark Meal Time as Family Time
It may appear difficult, but it is possible. Keep the TV off during mealtimes. If possible, have the TV far from eating area if there is any. Meal times are a good time to converse with one another. It is indeed true that families who take food together are likely to have more wholesome food. Prioritize eating together and plan family meals at least thrice each week.
Provide Alternative Options
Watching can become habitual, thus making it easier to overlook what is out there. Offer your family ideas or substitutes, such as having outdoor games, developing a new hobby or even learning a new sport altogether.
Deceased from using TV Time as a Reward or Punishment
Such practices are likely to make children perceive TV as important!
Understand TV Placements and Advertisements
Seeing fast food, snack foods soda and candy on the TV affects everybody, particularly children. Help your kids understand that since it is on television or favorite program does not mean a drink or food is healthy. Make your children think why their favorite animation character is attempting to getting them eat particular breakfast cereal brand.
Remove Your TV Cable
If you want a swift and effective way of limiting TV watching habits, cut your TV cable feed or remove it altogether. It will indeed change your family watching habits overnight. Luckily, it’ll impact your checkbook positively as well!
We know that stress lies at that root of almost every health challenge, right?
It contributes to systemic inflammation which can impact our gut and our mood, down regulates our immune system which can contribute to auto immunity and cancer, throws our blood sugar levels out of balance and even impedes our detoxification. Read on to learn how Essential Oils support stress relief.
Essential Oils Support StressI don’t know about you, but when I was originally told that I needed to reduce my stress levels, I felt paralyzed.
It was clear that my job, my kids and my lifestyle were stressful, but I had no idea how to shift that stress. I wasn’t about to quit my job as I needed the money to put food on the table. As stressful as my children could be, I didn’t want to sacrifice one minute with them. I was honestly overwhelmed and paralyzed.
I was told I had to reduce my stress to improve my health, but I had no idea where to start or what to do.
So I drew on the one skill that I knew would never fail me. My ability to research. I knew that if I could clearly understand how stress works in the body, I could then map out a clear plan for reducing it that would not require drastic life changes like quitting my job or abandoning my children.
How Essential Oils Can Support the Body in StressUnderstanding what actually triggers a stress response gave me the tools to help reduce it.
For example, nipping the thoughts that stir a stress response in the bud can help avoid it altogether. Essential oils are uniquely suited to help us address, transform and clear negative emotions and thought patterns.
Our sense of smell, which is part of our olfactory system, is one of the most powerful channels into the body. In fact, our sense of smell is estimated to be 10,000 times more acute than our other senses. Research has shown that scents can travel faster to the brain than other senses like sight or sound. Perhaps for that reason, inhalation can be the most direct and effective method for using essential oils. The entire process from the initial inhalation of an essential oil to a corresponding response in the body can happen in a matter of seconds.
When we inhale essential oils through the nose, the odor molecules trigger receptor sites in our mucous membrane, which then sends the odor information on to the olfactory bulb at the base of the brain. I find it interesting that it is not actually the essential oil itself that is sent to the brain, but a neural translation of the oils. These fragrance messages are interpreted and transmitted to the limbic system of the brain, known as the “emotional brain” because it deals with emotional and psychological responses.
As you may know, the limbic system serves as the control center in the brain for emotions and feelings, along with hunger, thirst and sex drive. This helps explain how scent can influence appetite and sexual attraction. It also impacts long-term memory through our hippocampus which stores our memories. The hippocampus is the area of the brain at play during those powerful experiences of smell triggering emotions or memories. For me, the mere smell of mothballs transports me back in time to my grandparent’s apartment in Brooklyn, triggering a multi-sensory memory including both the visuals and the emotions that I experienced during our annual visits.
This powerful emotional reaction in the limbic system is triggered by nerve impulses which in turn trigger other areas of the brain that are responsible for secreting hormones, neurotransmitters and regulating body functions. For example, the pituitary gland releases endorphins, which can help alleviate pain and promote a sense of well-being.
The theory of how this works centers on the idea that essential oils can stimulate or sedate the brain to promote or inhibit the production and release of various neurotransmitters which then impact the nervous system.
Because smells can bypass the thought center of the thalamus and connect directly to the emotional center of the brain, known as the amygdala in the limbic system, they can trigger us to react first and think later. All other physical senses are routed through the thalamus, which acts as the switchboard for the brain, passing stimuli onto the cerebral cortex (the conscious thought center) and other parts of the brain.
The amygdala plays a major role in storing and releasing emotional trauma. The easiest way to stimulate this gland is through the sense of smell. In other words – the emotional brain responds better to smell than it does to words that are read, spoken or heard. Our sense of smell links directly to emotional states and behaviors often stored since childhood.
This makes essential oils especially powerful tools for enabling us to access stored or forgotten memories and suppressed emotions, like anxiety, depression, fear, worry, grief, trauma, anger and self-abuse. Once accessed, we can acknowledge and release them. The word “emotion” includes the word motion, implying that are supposed to move through us and be released. Negative emotions can that we hold onto can contribute to health problems.
Emotions and thought patterns can trigger an ongoing stress response in the body (since our stress response cannot differentiate between physical or emotional and thought driven stressors) which impedes our ability to heal. Smelling essential oils can be a powerful tool for moving through and releasing these thought patterns.
The Stress Support Kit https://dv216.isrefer.com/go/stresskit/ldegarci/ from Vibrant Blue Oils is a great, simple way to get started with essential oils to support stress relief.
When we think of feeding our children, we often make the mistake of thinking of them as a small adult. But as they go through different developmental stages, their needs for protein will change and evolve. A child will never need quite as much protein as an adult, but this is more due to their size than anything else. A 3-year-old needs 0.12% of their body weight in protein a day, whereas adults only need a baseline of 0.08% of our bodyweight a day. This is because our child is continually growing and needs protein to form muscles, skin, and even bone! However, depending on their precise age their needs will still vary, for many reasons.
First of all, your child's minimum protein requirements up until age 2 is... not important. How is this? Don't they need protein? Well, of course they do need lots of protein. But at this age they will be getting more than enough from milk and formula. Even later on, from ages 2 to 4, your child is so efficient at recycling protein in their diet that as long as they eat some variety and some protein sources, you don't need to worry about counting each gram. It is only later, as their needs increase and their ability to reuse old protein decreases, that you want to watch their protein intake more closely.
Ideally, your child will be eating 19 grams a day between ages 4 and 9, and 34 grams between ages 9 and 13. From then onwards, boys will need 52 grams of protein a day, and girls need 46 grams a day. Of course this will vary depending on how active they are and how much they weigh. More active kids and kids who are taller or more muscular need more protein to replenish what they lose in a day.
Protein is absolutely vital for growing children. First of all, protein is an essential building block for our bodies. When we get enough protein every part of our body is held together as it is supposed to be. But when we do not get enough protein then not only our muscles, but every part of our bodies breaks down. Our skin and organs are rich in protein, sure, but protein is even present in our bones and blood.
Protein is also vital for regulating appetite and energy. When children eat less protein than recommended they usually replace the calories with carbs. These children end up lethargic, bored, and constantly hungry. On the other hand, a kid that gets enough protein fills up quickly and is brimming with energy all day.
Finally, proteins, and the foods that contain them, are a key component for maintaining good brain health. Not only protein, but the zinc, magnesium, B vitamins, etc. we find alongside it, are essential to maintaining the neural pathways in our brain. This gives us a stable mood, helps us tell night and day apart and sleep well, and makes us more focused.
For most of us protein quantity is not a huge issue. So long as your child is eating main protein sources at least once a day, they are probably getting enough, as only 100g of animal meat contains 20g of protein. However, if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, or a reduced meat diet, you may need to watch what your child is eating.
Also, please remember that your child's protein needs are averages, not a daily prescription! If your child doesn't do much one day, don't be shocked if they eat barely any protein. Likewise, if they are going through a growth spurt their daily protein intake could even double. If your child looks healthy, then they are probably balancing their protein out over the week, even if one day is high and another is low. On the other hand, if your child is always snacking, lethargic, bored, ill-tempered, and unfocused, then they could not be getting enough protein for their current stage of development. Always pay attention to what their body is doing, more than to prescribed numbers.
Short-term memory includes both immediate and working memory, each with very restrictive time and capacity limits (Sousa, 2008). The hippocampus uses “sensory input from the thalamus, movement coordination in the basal ganglion and emotions in the hypothalamus to form short-term memory. Communication between hippocampus and the brain area that handles sensory information fortifies our memories” (Hannaford, 1995, p.60).
During a lesson, we tend to remember best which comes first and second best that which comes last (Sousa, 2008). This is known as the serial position effect. The reason this happens is that the information in the first few minutes is within the working memory’s capacity limits, but later during the lesson, our capacity limits have been exceeded. The following diagram by Sousa, 2006, illustrates what this might look like in a 40 minute lesson. The retention time periods are labeled as prime-time-1 and prime-time-2.
0 10 20 30 40
The degree of retention during a learning episode (Sousa 2008, p. 61)
There are two kinds of long-term memories, declarative and non-declarative (Sousa, 2008), which are stored in different parts of our brains.
Declarative memories include episodic and semantic memories. Episodic memories are when we can remember vividly where we were and what we were doing when an event occurred, like the fall of the Berlin Wall. Semantic memories, on the other hand, are how we remember the meanings of words and other factual and general information of our environment. These memories are stored in the hippocampal region, entorhinal cortex, perirhinal cortex, and parahippocampal cortex (Ullman, 2005).
Non-declarative memories are those that are more emotional, automatic, and procedural. The ability to ride a bike is considered a procedural memory. We would have a hard time explaining exactly how to do it, our bodies just know. These skills are shifted from a reflective to a reflexive thought process after they are mastered (Sousa, 2008).
The parts of the brain that are dedicated to non-declarative memories are the frontal and basal-ganglia circuits; the parietal cortex for working memory tasks and knowledge of motor skills; the cerebellum where memory of balance, skilled movement and motor sequencing is stored; and the Broca’s area which stores the process of non-motor sequences like music, timing, and rhythm (Ullman, 2005).
When examining the idea of neuroplasticity and how the brain can change, we saw that repetition, or rehearsal, is an important element of that change. This is especially true for moving information from our short-term to long-term memory. There is a definite chemical reaction in the brain when information goes from short to long-term memory. A protein, kinase A, “moves from the body of the neuron into its nucleus, where genes are stored. The protein turns on a gene to make a protein that alters the structure of the nerve ending, so that it grows new connections between the neurons” (Doidge, 2007, p. 220). What this means is that when we learn, we are actually changing which genes are turned on.
Sousa describes different types of rehearsal: intial and secondary, which involve when the rehearsal takes place; and rote and elaborative, which is the type of rehearsing being done.
Initial rehearsal occurs immediately when the student is presented with the information and tries to attach meaning to it. If he is unsuccessful at this moment, then the new information will most likely not be retained.
Secondary rehearsal allows students to spend more time to make sense of the material and connect the ideas to previous knowledge, which increases the chance of retention (Sousa, 2008).
When you practice something, it gets easier for the signals to cross the synapse. That’s because the contact area becomes wider and more neuro- transmitters are stored there.
Rote rehearsal is used when trying to memorize, for instance the multiplication tables or other math facts, but elaborative rehearsal is used to associate and connect the new information to prior knowledge and looking for relationships and patterns.
This if from my book, Movement Makes Math Meaningful: Away from the Desk Math Lessons Aligned with the Common core
Feeding kids, a healthy breakfast can be a challenge, especially when unhealthy foods are so popular in breakfast culture. Sugary cereals, spreads that are half or more sugar and the rest is oil, caffeinated foods, greasy fried foods, fast foods... Even some of our “healthy” options, such as fruit salads or plain cereals, leave much to be desired due to their high fast-release carb content, low protein content, and low micronutrient content.
But kids can and will eat almost anything for breakfast if you give it to them. We tend to assume that our kids are picky eaters because they don't like bread, or won't eat broccoli. However even though your kid may have some foods they are very fussy about, you might be surprised by the healthy foods your kids will eat if given the chance. So how do we go about composing the perfect healthy breakfast for our kids?
Start with starch.
Starches, especially cold starches, are one of the most underrated breakfast foods for kids. Many of us may feel guilty when our kid gets a sandwich, some overnight oats, or a bagel for breakfast. But actually, the right starches make the perfect foundation for a healthy breakfast. The key is in choosing a starch which will release its energy slowly. A cooked, cooled starch, such as rice or potatoes, forms something called resistant starch, which is digested slowly. Likewise, starchy foods served with fats and fiber are much more slowly digested, giving your kid steady energy all morning.
-cooked, cooled oats
-cooked, cooled potato
-cooked, cooled rice
-whole bran bread
Progress onto protein.
But starch alone will not make for a filling, healthy breakfast! Research has found that kids who eat a carb-based breakfast have lower energy levels, worse tempers, and underperform both physically and at school when compared to kids who eat protein for breakfast. Make sure to include 10-15 grams of protein in your kid's breakfast. You may offer them a cooked egg, sausage meat, nuts and seeds in their porridge, or some extra milk. But whatever it is, make sure it has enough protein to fuel them.
-brazils in overnight oats
-sunflower seeds in cooked, cooled oats
-scrambled egg and cooked, cooled potato
-walnuts in cooked, cooled rice pudding
-bacon on whole bran toast
-rye bread topped with a fried egg
Because of the way we usually plan our breakfasts, all too often we neglect our micronutrient balance. A lot of breakfast cereals are so lacking in natural nutrients that they need to fortify them. And things like milk, bacon, or fruits, whilst better than a plain bowl of cereal, are still not massively rich in micronutrients. Try and make a point of including at least one food at breakfast that is a proper nutritional bomb. Eggs are a great example, being rich in minerals and B vitamins. Nuts and seeds are full of antioxidants and minerals, and some, like flax seed, are high in omega 3. And berries, unlike large fruits, are high in antioxidants.
-brazils and blueberries in overnight oats
-sunflower seeds in cooked, cooled oats topped with honey
-scrambled egg and cooked, cooled potato
-walnuts and raisins in cooked, cooled rice pudding
-bacon and tomatoes on whole bran toast
-rye bread topped with a fried egg and mushrooms
Take your time.
When your kids have a hearty breakfast in front of them, it may not be easy to get them to eat it all up. Kids tend to drag these things out quite a bit, especially if there is something new on the menu. Make sure to leave a little extra time for them to fuss about what they have, pick at things, and generally get food in bit by bit. It might seem ridiculous, but if you want them to eat well it may help to just sit down and work on your emails for ten minutes after you finish.
There is no One True Breakfast.
Another important thing to remember is that if your kids won't eat something, then it's no big deal. They don't need to eat any specific food to have a good breakfast, so if something doesn't agree with them, then cycle it out and try a new thing. It is much better for your sanity to put together a healthy breakfast your kids will eat than to try and persuade them to eat the healthiest breakfast bowl in the world.
Finally, there are a few things to avoid when making a breakfast fit for a kid. When feeding our children we need to remember that the goal is to fill them up and keep them full, energized, and nourished until lunch time. For that reason, do not include more than a teaspoon of sugars with their breakfast. This includes in fruit, drinks, and pre-made bread products. Sugars cause energy spikes and crashes that mean everyone is hungry again two hours later. For the same reason, don't serve your kids a low calorie breakfast. Kids need plenty of energy, especially in the morning, when they should get at least a quarter of their total daily calories.
“Learning is easier to store, remember, and retrieve if it has an emotional base,” (Oberparleiter, 2004, in Lengel, & Kuczala, 2010, p. 19 ). Students who feel safe and respected are more highly motivated to learn and are more likely to be intrinsic learning. The limbic system, which is involved in our emotions and hormone control, is comprised of several parts of the brain, including the amygdala and hippocampus, which play an important role in memory.
The limbic system is stimulated by the Reticulating Activating System (RAS), which is then connected to the pre-frontal cortex by dopamine (Blomberg & Dempsey, 2011). The thalamus is also a structure of the limbic system, which is involved in sensory perception and regulation of movement. Negative emotions not only switches off learning, but can cause the release of neurotransmitters that can weaken the immune system, therefore having physiological affects. Therefore, there is a strong connection between our emotions, memory, and movement.
The patterns formed in the child’s “brain will take in everything he experiences while doing exercises - physical or cognitive - including patterns of not being able to perform that movement or skill or not being able to do it well” (Baniel, 2012 p. 52). What this means to teachers, is that as students are focusing on trying to learn a skill, if there is negative emotion, stress, and frustration attached to that learning experience, it will be wired together with that skill he is trying to learn.
-This comes from my book: Movement Makes Math Meaningful: Away fro the Desk Math Lessons Aligned with the Common core
Kids seem to be drawn to sugar like moths to a flame. But we all also know that too much sugar, from any source, is bad for us. And, then again, children, unlike adults, need to eat a minimum amount of carbohydrates per day, and may need some fast-release carbohydrate at times, due to how energetic they are. As a parent, it can be very difficult to control our kids' sugar intake, so it is important to approach this challenge logically.
The first thing we need to consider is that children below a certain age do not experience sugar like we do. Under the age of four or five, our children's limit for sugar is the sky. Seriously, they have done studies where they dissolved gradually increased amounts of sugar in water, and whereas older children and adults had a point where it was “too sweet” to drink, children under the age of five had no such limit. So, naturally, we need to restrict sugar access at this age, not just for their health, but to program their taste buds against overly sweet things later in life.
So how much sugar is too much sugar? Most kids only need three or four child-size servings of carbohydrate a day, so it is important to realize that at most one of these can be high in sugar. We may think we are doing a good thing if our kids get sugary cereal and banana for breakfast, toast and jam for lunch, jacket potatoes and sausages for dinner, and an ice cream for pudding, but that is already five servings, four of which are largely simple sugars! Make sure to only offer white starches and sugars once a day. A better day would be a soft-boiled egg, toast and butter, a jacket potato and sausages, and then a small fruit cup for pudding.
Even sugars from natural sources, such as fruit and honey, can cause issues. Sugar, at the end of the day, is still sugar, even when there is some fiber in it, and even when it is a natural source of sugar. It will still spike your child's insulin, increase their sweet tooth, and mess with their appetite. Far better to stick to things that do not taste sweet. Especially when choosing foods for younger children. By curbing their cravings and feeding them a variety of non-sweet foods we are showing their bodies what good energy there is in starch, protein, and fats, and that sweet things are a rare treat, not everyday life. This sets them up for a low sugar childhood, and life.
To help your older kids make better sugar choices, make sure to educate them about the importance of reducing sugar, and cooperate with them to find alternatives. Your kids may hate carrot sticks and hummus, but may love toast and butter or roasted chickpeas. By working with them, rather than against them, you stop being the bad guy and making sugar such a desirable, “special” food!
When permitting sugar, we need to also consider our kids' metabolic needs. Sugar makes for a terrible breakfast or dinner food. Sugar at breakfast limits the amount of protein your kid eats, resulting in an energy crash and brain fog. Prioritize proteins and fiber at breakfast. And at dinner it may give them too much energy and affect sleep. So make sure they get plenty of slow release starches, to help them wind down and sleep deeply.
Instead, we should try and feed a small amount of sugar as a mid-morning or mid afternoon snack, to keep our kids propped up throughout the day. Children burn a lot of energy through the day, so they are likely to burn out eventually no matter what we feed them. And young kids may still be used to the frequent feedings they had as infants. Protein at breakfast and lunch will keep them going a long time, but often a small sugar boosts an hour before lunch and dinner can help them.
Another great time to offer a little sugar is before, during, or after exercise. Before exercise always make sure to combine sugar, complex starches, and fiber rich foods, for a healthy, steady stream of energy. But after exercise a small amount of sugar to perk them up until their energy rebalances on its own is most welcome.
When you offer your kid small doses of sugar at appropriate times you eliminate the idea that sugar is a special treat, a reward, or an otherwise emotional food. But you are doing this without forbidding it or making it a bad food either. It is important not to demonize any nutrient, food, or food group to your child, as this attitude can stick with them for life and encourage disordered eating. Instead, we can show them that each food has a time, a place, and a purpose, sugar included. This food may be very tasty, but it has a job to do, and that is why we do not eat it all the time!
The brain is not designed for continuous learning, but needs some down time to process and “digest” what it is trying to learn. Throughout the day, our brain has natural lows and highs. Each cycle lasts approximately 90-110 minutes, and constant focused attention can only last approximately 10 minutes (The Brain-Movement Connection, n.d.). Therefore, in the classroom, teachers need to present essential material in short segments and then allow time for processing, whether individually or in small groups. Fatigue is a sure way to turn off the child’s learning switch. Frequent mental breaks are critical for increased learning and productivity.
One way to appropriately attend is to go slow, whether it is a movement or thinking about a new math concept. Fast, we can only do what we already know, and movement done automatically creates little or no new connections in the brain. In fact, when we do things quickly, the brain defaults to “already existing and deeply grooved patterns” (Baniel, 2012).
When we do things fast, or with automaticity, it is the brainstem at work. However, when we do things with attention, connections in the brain are being made. Have you ever driven home and not remembered how you got there? That was your brainstem at work. When trying to learn a new skill, it is important to hold off on going fast until the brain has formed the necessary connections and patterns for performing the new skill (Baniel, 2012).
Baniel (2002) explains that when one goes slow, it allows the brain a chance to feel. Einstein came up with his theory of relativity by imagining himself riding a ray of light, feeling the sensations of movement and the relationships of his body to the space around him. Many children do not know how to go slow and attend and notice the nuances in what they are doing. It is up to us at teachers to encourage and coach students to slow down and to notice relationships and patterns to help develop a deeper conceptual understanding.
--This is from my book: Movement Makes Math Meaningful: Away from the Desk Math Lessons Aligned with the Common Core
If you want to raise healthy kids, it often starts with limiting certain things so that they are encouraged to play outside and be more active. Encouraging healthy behaviors includes reducing their screen time. Here are some reasons why you should consider doing this.
Kids Are More Active
The less time your kids spend on their computers, playing video games, or watching TV, the more time they spend being active and finding outdoor adventures to go on. The problem with encouraging exercise in kids is that they feel like they don’t have enough time when you consider school, homework, dinner, and their TV time. However, if you start reducing screen time, they have those extra slots of time to do other things. It might not be easy in the beginning, so having the entire family reduce screen time is easier on the kids because you are all doing it together.
There Are Fewer Distractions
You will also notice that there aren't as many distractions when everyone in the home is spending more time together or on other activities and less on computers and cell phones. If you find that when you are all at the dinner table, an adult, teen, or child is distracted by their phone or tablet, it is a good sign that distractions are getting in the way of regular conversation. Enjoying each other at dinner is a good reason to cut back.
You Get More Family Time
Along these same lines is the fact that you will have more time together as a family. Instead of letting everyone go off and do their own thing during the evenings or over the weekend, take away the electronics and do more family activities. Activities might include going for a walk, taking a drive to the beach, or enjoying an indoor game or crossword puzzle. You can have one game night every week or get some games and toys to enjoy in your backyard.
They Find Other Interests
When your kids aren’t spending their free time playing the Playstation or watching movies, they will start exploring other activities. You aren't punishing them by taking everything away, but just limiting computer and TV time. Downtime from electronics lets them play with more of their toys, find things to do outside, or maybe even making new friends in the neighborhood. Engagement in healthy play is never a bad thing! You might even buy them some new activities to make it a little easier to ditch all the electronics.
“I will not be distracted by noise, chatter, or setbacks. Patience, commitment, grace, and purpose will guide me.”
― Louise L. Hay
Before appropriate connections have been made in the brain between the senses and structures in the brain, it is difficult for the child to make sense of the word and is very difficult for him to pay attention (Gold, 2008).
Merzenich discovered that paying close attention is essential to long-term plastic changes in the brain and that neural connections can be altered only if there is full attention to what we do. He noticed that when we try to learn while having a divided attention, the brain maps created are not substantial (Doidge, 2007).
This means that even though right now you might not have great ability to attend or focus, but if you want to and you try, then you are putting in the effort that will allow for neurons to grow. If this act of trying is repeated on a consistent basis, like every day, then those nerve connections get stronger and the ability to focus and attend will improve. All of a sudden you will notice that it is not as difficult to pay attention as it once was.
This idea of attention being a necessary agent of change is now being used with many practitioners, such as Anat Baniel. Anat works with children with both physical challenges, such as Cerebral Palsy, and learning challenges, such as Autism. For both of these types of challenges, she states that the number one essential, of the nine that she has coined, that makes the most significant changes is “movement with attention.” She states that “the child’s ability to notice differences in what she sees, hears, tastes, smells, and feels in her moving body is at the heart of the brain’s capacity for creating new neuroconnections and pathways” (p. 30). Therefore, if we want to create changes in our brain maps either on a physical or academic level, significant attention to what we are learning is necessary (Baniel, 2012).
In preschool it is expected that children are only able to pay attention for just a few minutes, however as the child grows, so do the expectations. When children grow in age but their brains are not developing accordingly, they then begin to differentiate from their peers in their ability to attend to the lessons.
--This is from my book: Movement Makes Math Meaningful: Away From The Desk math Lessons Aligned with the Common Core
Lisa Ann de Garcia, MA, MEd.