Screen media floods a child with visual sensory overload and physical sensory deprivation in a way that hinders development and deprives them of the physical stimulation they need for healthy growth and development. Children who have had exposure to excessive screen media often present with speech delays, frenetic movement, delayed motor skills, difficulty settling into tasks, and difficulty engaging in imaginative play, among other challenges. It is important that families know that this topic is addressed in an inclusive environment free of judgment. Our approach is straightforward and understanding of the modern struggles that lead to screen use.


Children will feel more secure in playing independently, without significant adult input, if they first have mindful, warm, distraction-free moments of connection with their caregivers.  Moments of caregiving (meal times, dressing, hand washing, diapering, etc.) are wonderful times to be fully present with your child, giving eye contact, attention, and love while helping them through a moment in their day when they need an adult presence. Knowing that their caregiver is physically and mentally available to them provides security.  The child needs to know that they are more important than whatever is happening on the phone or computer. With this need fulfilled, the child will be more ready to play on their own without constant adult interaction.


Independent play is a muscle that only grows stronger when we use it. Young children love to play, and they will learn to play on their own if we give them a chance, starting as young as possible. If we provide entertainment through screens, the child will learn that entertainment comes from outside of them. They learn passivity, that they can sit and wait, and entertainment will be provided. Children who learn media-free independent play will know that entertainment comes from within themself, developing a creative spark that will serve them for a lifetime. The whole family will benefit as well, as children are able to self-entertain for developmentally appropriate stretches of time while parents tend to other important tasks. It is very important that we not delay teaching children the skill of independent play: learning this skill is more difficult for older children who have never been asked to self-entertain before. 


Screen media use tends to increase over time. The more exposure we have, the more our brains will ask for. Delaying exposure will help enormously in managing screen time battles in the future. It is important to note that allowing no screen time is much easier than having a little screen time. When the child is used to a screen-free environment, there is no conversation or debate about it. Managing screen time only gets harder after early childhood. For now, it is simple: none is easiest on the child, easiest on the caregivers, and most healthy for everyone involved. And most importantly, media-free early childhood sets the fertile soil for healthy growth and development.

Resources and further reading to support a screen-free home:


Sparkle Stories:

Listen to sample stories and use this discount code for a complimentary 20 day trial: SUSQUEHANNA

With a library of over 1400 original audio-only stories, each Sparkle story contains a small seed of learning, including how to be kind to others, how to be respectful in thought, word, and deed, and how to live in wonder and reverence for this incredible world. Many stories are connected to a tutorial, craft, or recipe so the narrative experience does not end with the entertainment, but offers inspiration for further creativity and exploration. A streaming subscription provides unlimited access to all 1400+ audios plus access to all of the associated content.


Louis’ Farm:

A nature inspired “magazine” for ages 3 and up. Use the promotional code WALDORF to receive 50% off your entire order. Samples available in Williams Hall. 

Whizz through winter, slide through spring, sweat through summer and fall through fall with Louis, Sarah, Little Gnome, and all kinds of animals and plants. Then you can play games, solve puzzles and make crafts related to the stories you have read! Each issue of Louis’ Farm contains 50+ pages of exciting stories, activities, songs, games and craft ideas that will help you and your children create and grow through the seasons. 


Simplicity Parenting (Book, Podcast and Website resources for parents): 

With too much stuff, too many choices, and too little time, children can become anxious, have trouble with friends and school, or even be diagnosed with behavioral problems. Now internationally renowned family consultant Kim John Payne helps parents reclaim for their children the space and freedom that all kids need for their attention to deepen and their individuality to flourish. Simplicity Parenting offers inspiration, ideas, and a blueprint for change:

  • Streamline your home environment. Reduce the amount of toys, books, and clutter—as well as the lights, sounds, and general sensory overload.
  • Establish rhythms and rituals. Discover ways to ease daily tensions, create battle-free mealtimes and bedtimes, and tell if your child is overwhelmed. 
  • Schedule a break in the schedule. Establish intervals of calm and connection in your child’s daily torrent of constant doing.
  • Scale back on media and parental involvement. Manage your children’s “screen time” to limit the endless deluge of information and stimulation. 

Free Simplicity Starter Kit to help families simplify:


Written By: Becky Rudowsky