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What Do My {Screen Free} Kids Do After School?

Nora and Henry both attend Montessori schools each week day. Most days, Nora is only in school for one work cycle  (3 hours in Montessori) so she spends most of her days still at home. Henry is in school for a traditional school day (no before or aftercare), so there are still several afternoon and evening hours here at home. What do we do to fill those hours? 

Montessori friendly, screen free ideas for children to do after school

The simple answer is play! They have the freedom to play. The freedom to explore their interests. To develop and nurture their sibling relationship. To simply be. What that really looks like changes from day to day. But there are some common factors to our afternoon including: 

Opportunities for Independence 

As a Montessori family allowing opportunities for independence are key to our everyday existence. This extends beyond the classroom into our very own prepared environment here at home. Now, this independence can look different ways depending on the child and on the day. Some examples of this can include: 
  • preparing their own snack 
  • preparing or cooking dinner 
  • self care - showering, doing their hair, painting nails, clipping fingernails, etc. 
  • practical participation in our home - helping with laundry, helping with cleaning, raking leaves/shoveling snow/sweeping (basically any chores we have to complete around our house that they feel called to help with) 
  • baking desserts or treats 
  • visiting an elderly neighbor 
Basically, this time at home extends the independence they are afforded at school. We are supporting them as they move on their path of independence. 

Opportunities to Read 

Creating a culture of readers is important to me and my husband. I want children who feel confident in their ability to read and find knowledge freely. This means creating a culture of reading in our home from the time our children are really young. After school, this does mean avoiding screens in favor of picking up a book, or two, or 10. We do this in a lot of ways including: 
  • being available to read after school 
  • visiting the library frequently
  • having access to a lot of books 
  • turning to books when questions come up
  • picking up a book to read when I have free time in the afternoon 

Basically, reading has become part of our daily routine. And making space for that after school, is really important. 

Opportunities to Play

The opportunity for free play is very very important to me. As Maria Montessori said, "Free activity makes children happy. we can see how happy they are, but it is not the fact that they are happy that is important; the important thing is that a child can construct a man through this free activity." It's through play that children will construct who they will become. Some ways that my children spend their time playing include: 
  • open ended toys - building with blocks, magnatiles, farm animals, doll house
  • going outside with friends 
  • trips to the neighborhood park 
  • playing sports/outdoor games 
  • nature walks 
  • playing indoor games 
  • art projects - constructing with art materials, building things with cardboard boxes/found materials, nature based art, simple coloring, painting, stickers, sewing 
  • explore academic interests that they might have - using a toy to explore geography/language/math/science
  • conduct experiments/make science discoveries/research - using microscope, researching in a book, using a toy or work designed for discovery 
  • engaging in a hobby - bird watching, rock collecting, bug collecting, etc 
  • create games with each other, or friends 

Space to be Bored 

Finally, there is always the space to be bored. Boredom is the fuel to so much creativity, so much fun, so many discoveries. It's not something we have to be afraid of as parents. It's not something to be avoided. It's what drives all these other wonderful things. And, that just requires space! That requires free time. It requires time to move, explore, grow, and play. 

I'm not going to lie and say it's super easy all the time. There are plenty of afternoons where I feel like I'm going to lose it. And, there are plenty of afternoons where none of this happens because we have an appointment or errands to run. 

Montessori friendly, screen free ideas for children to do after school


What do your children do after school? 

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Comments

Amanda L.F. said…
I always love reading your insights. Thanks for writing and sharing. It's especially good for me to know that I'm not the only one who feels like I'm losing my mind somedays!

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