Your child is getting older and getting better and better at communicating with their language every day. We know that over the last while parents have loosened restrictions on screen time, both for themselves and for our kids.

While this is totally okay it’s also important and fun to incorporate screen-free time into every day. Time away from screens helps our kids to explore, discover and use their imaginations. Screen-free time allows a child’s brain to develop in ways that screen-time does not.

What can screen-free time look like for your preschooler and you as a parent?

Read a book together. This is the age when “real stories” with characters, setting, and storyline become more interesting. Children at this stage can typically get into deeper conversations about the book and may ask you questions. They may be more willing to let you hold the book and read from beginning to end. Here are some popular options for preschoolers.

  • Fairy tales and classic stories
  • Follow their interest letters, truck, and machines, numbers, animals, etc.
  • Books related to their experiences.  Maybe insert their name for a character or make your own book with photos about something they like to do.

Explore outdoors with your child. Children this age often LOVE to build a collection. Whether it’s dandelions, leaves, sticks, or rocks, encourage your child to pick the “best” one on each walk to add to the collection at home. Talk about what made it the best one. It may be its size, shape, or texture. Make a plan or talk about what they could do with the collection, where and how to store it, or a craft or project the pieces could be used for.

Hooray for playdough! The goals with playdough and preschoolers often go beyond the initial simple exploration of materials. Playdough can encourage creativity, pretend play and imagination, and can also support their growing language skills.

  • Build and create. Incorporate household and craft materials into play with playdough, so your child can create and set their imaginations free. Make materials like stir sticks, stones, buttons, straws, pipe cleaners, strips of cardboard, shells, etc. available so your child can truly create. You can also work together on one big playdough project, if that’s what interests them. As long as you’re talking and sharing ideas, you’re on the right path!
  • Tell me the story. Once they have finished their creations, help them to tell you the story about them. You can even use this chance to introduce some new words or ideas to go along. (ea. First ______ Next ______ Then) First, the duck was sitting on her nest. Next, she laid an egg. Then there was a baby duck and they were happy.
  • Let’s Play! Now that you have the creations and the “backstory”, spend some time acting out a story. Focus on playing like a kid, copy what they do, and have them share their ideas with you.
  • Do a treasure hunt in the playdough. Gather small items from around the house (ea. coins, beads, animal figurines, buttons, shells, etc.) and then embed them in a big ball of playdough. Your child can work to find and remove the items from the playdough, and you can talk about their discoveries together. You can sort the items they find, talk about where they go, or even add them to one of those collections!

If you would like information that is more specific to your child, please do not hesitate to email your S-LP directly, or you can email NONA’s Therapies Supervisor at and she will be able to help you out or direct your request to someone who can. We are here to help.