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  • School provides kids with a day-to-day structure and routine. During the summer, however, your child is free to do many of the things he couldn't do on a daily basis when there is school. In his estimation, he can now spend a huge chunk of  the day in front of the screen. If that's what he has been doing, it may be time to set up a few summer time rules.

    This photo of a “Summer Rules” list, posted by the Children's Ministry Deals Facebook page, has gone viral with over 975,000 shares. The rules have a checklist of tasks a child must first complete before he’s allowed to use gadgets. This includes basic self-care and hygiene (eating breakfast, brushing teeth, fixing the bed, etc.), chores (helping out someone in the family), and screen-free activities (reading and playing outside). 

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    Some think that having to “make/build something creative” may be a bit too much for a child to do every day. But, the list can always be customized to fit each child and household. If your child has a pet or plays an instrument, for example, having to care for the animal or practice the piano can be included in your child’ summer list. 

    Whatever your child’s “Summer Rules” checklist may contain, the main reason behind it stays the same: too much screen time isn’t good. Though not necessarily written down, several celeb Pinoy parents have similar rules in their household. Judy Ann Santos, for example, has shared, “We stick to our 1 hour rule when using gadgets. They have to read a book or at least finish one book or more before matapos ang bakasyon.” 

    For Edric and Joy Mendoza’s kids, a list of responsibilities come before screen time as well. “Every child of mine has a list of responsibilities that they have to do within the day,” Joy told SmartParenting.com.ph. This includes daily exercise and playing outside, personal reading time, playing instruments, and taking care of pets. “If they're getting those things done, then I don't mind letting them use devices,” said Joy. “Probably in a day, they don't go for more than an hour [of screen time].”

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    And, experts back this up —  a little structure, even in the summertime, is critical for kids’ growth and development, said pediatrician Dr. Mollie Grow in an article for the Seattle Children’s hospital website. “By default, if children are left to their own devices they will more likely choose the path of least resistance with sedentary activities like watching TV, playing video games or surfing the web.”

    “Children need guidelines and expectations. If they don’t have them, they tend to become easily restless or complain of boredom,” said Dr. Grow. Some questions to get you started on building a summer rules list include: 

    • How much screen time is too much? 
    • When should your daughter wake up each morning? 
    • How much time should your son spend outside? 

    Aside from establishing summer guidelines, it’s also important that you support your child in finding something enjoyable to do to fill his days as well. Here are a few ideas: 

    • Schedule a weekly playdate for her to help her spend time outside and off the couch
    • Summer sports classes like those for swimming, martial arts or basketball can get her get more exercise while being enjoyable at the same time
    • Helping her setup a mini business like a sago't gulaman stand or making polvoron to sell
    • Have creative materials at the ready. A cardboard box, felt paper, glue, buttons, googly eyes, and a few scraps of cloth are great materials for a puppet show

    “If a child is in a stimulating environment, getting to play and be active, and do things that promote motor and cognitive skills, then even kids who tend to be more sedentary will be more likely to be engaged and active,” said Dr. Grow.

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