I'm not sure what it's like in your house, but in mine the process of "winding down" for bed time needs to start hours before bed time actually arrives. For better for for worse, one of the most predictable ways to help kids calm down is to give them some "screen time". But let's face it, not all screen time was created equal.
Some shows and apps are great. Informative, help to develop fine motor skills, can even be inspiring. But a whole lot of ways to spend screen time isn't all that profitable.
One way to help it become more useful time is to do it together. Technology tends to drive us towards an individual experience, but with a little effort you can make it something you share.
What are the benefits of sharing the experience when often you wouldn't mind a little individual screen time of your own? For starters, you get to monitor what they are seeing. If you didn't already know you should be aware that a lot of the free games out there make kids watch ads that aren't at all age appropriate every few minutes in order to keep playing. You might never know what they are seeing unless you are playing with them. You'll also get to maximize the opportunity for learning, encouraging their discovery, and teach them to utilize the technology that will be such a big part of their future...or maybe they'll be able to show you how to use it properly. Either way. Plus, you can help them pass that difficult level if they need a hand and look like a hero for it.
But games aren't the only way to spend screen time together. Did you know that our Kids' Connection Leaders at Redemption have begun teaching an AMAZING curriculum that has an app you can download so you can follow along at home?
It's called The Gospel Project for Kids and over the course of 3 years it will take the kids in our church through the entire Bible with the focus on showing them how the Scriptures point to Jesus. You can download the app for free (just search "Gospel Project for Kids"). Because we are starting after the material first came out you'll need to click on "Fall 2015" in order to find the lessons they are working on right now.
There is a free version, as well as the option to spend a few dollars and get the full version. I totally recommend spending the $5 or less for every 3 months of material. When you do you'll get coloring games and puzzles, you can watch the videos they see each week in Sunday School with them, and have them teach you the songs they are learning.
It can be hard for parents to connect meaningfully with their kids about faith. It can be hard to get kids to wind down at night. It can be hard to have the screen time kids so desperately want be profitable for them. This offers a solution to all three challenges and makes for an awesome way for you to end the night with your kids.