Managing screen time was a big consideration for Mike and I when we first got custody of Toby. I remember when we were driving to the courthouse to see the judge, we were talking about all of our hopes and dreams for him. We were kicked into parent-mode just like that. We discussed diet, entertainment, activities and experiences. Of course we had absolutely no idea what life with a 3 year old looked like, but we had thought about what we were hoping to provide him with. Screen time was something we wanted to limit, but not restrict. But of course most parents can agree with me here: sometimes it's easier said than done. Sometimes when you're hustling around trying to get dinner, laundry and work done all at once, it's easy to hand your kid the iPad and say "Have at it!" Still, even a few days shy of 7 years old, Toby's screen time is monitored, though we do allow him to engage more often as he ages. One way we've managed to feel better about his screen time is by letting him play interactive (but educational!) games. Toby loved learning to write his ABC's on our iPad, and his excitement for technology definitely helps make it feel more like a game as opposed to just learning. Every child learns differently, but it's certainly easier to facilitate if you make it fun.
Curious World has almost all but taken over his iPad time recently, and we're not complaining. If you're not familiar with Curious World, it's a subscription service that boasts a huge library of early learning activities for kids aged 3-7. You can use the app via you iPad or iPhone, and children "tap into wonder" by learning through play. Every video, game and book is mapped to key learning areas and the content changes based on your child's age and developmental stage. They add new activities each week so it definitely keeps it new and fun for kids like Toby who can sometimes grow bored fo the same ol', same ol'. You can track your child's progress through the activities, too, so there's no reason to feel the guilt that can sometimes come from voluntary screen time. It's a really useful way to see what your child is into and what he/she loves to learn. It can absolutely help tailor your familyl activities outside of the app. It's currently only available on iPhones and iPads running iOS 8.0+, but it can be easily downloaded from the Apple store. (Android app coming in the future!) You can try a free 30-day trial of Curious World to see if it's right for you and your kids, too! If you decide to try it out, let me know!