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How do I make sure my kids are ready for learning after a summer full of TV and video games?

Most families take a more relaxed approach to screen time during the summer. But once the school year starts, homework, extracurriculars, and other activities require a tighter schedule. Develop a game plan -- with your kids' input -- before school starts, and begin implementing it when you still have some flexibility in your schedule. Here are a few ways to keep kids skills up over the summer.

And remember, it's OK -- in fact, it's beneficial -- for kids to get bored, too. Downtime encourages kids to use their imagination and creativity and develop their inner selves -- essential skills they can use all their lives.

Different strategies work for different families, but here are some ideas to try:

  • Go easy. Allot a certain amount of "unwind" time before homework.
  • Be strict. Prohibit TV and games until all work is done.
  • Establish clear boundaries. Set a timer to go off signaling the start of homework time.
  • Use incentives. Motivate kids with small rewards.

Keep in mind that screen time can be constructive, too. Kids can actually enhance their learning with well-chosen, high-quality digital tools. Check out our recommendation lists for websites, apps, and games that boost learning in core skills such as math, reading, social studies, and even 21st-century skills.

And remember that kids pick up tech habits from their parents, so if you want your kids to limit their screen time, let your calls go to voicemail, save your email for tomorrow, and set aside "no tech zones" for family time.

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