How much screen time in distance learning is OK?

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Distance learning doesn’t mean sitting in front of the computer all day. Read how the State of Illinois recommends teachers to plan activities for children aged 3-5 and what is the recommended screen time.

Activities for children need to be shared via online means. Short daily online gatherings are recommended to maintain the connection with the children, but learning activities themselves can be done offline with the family and with resources that can easily be found from home.

The following recommendations and guidelines for remote learning are presented by Illinois State board of Education as suggested minimum and maximum times of engagement by each student in remote learning activities.


Age and Minimum - Maximum times of screen time:

3-4 year olds: 20 - 60 minutes / day (3-5 minutes of Sustained Attention)

5 year olds: 30 - 90 minutes / day (3-5 minutes of Sustained Attention)


Teachers are also encouraged to give children additional, but optional home work, engagement opportunities, and enrichment opportunities (e.g. independent research projects). They emphasize that the home work should be optional.

Additional engagement is especially important for little learners, where it is not developmentally appropriate to expect a child to pay attention to tasks for a long period of time. Instead, children and families should be supported by having access to varied additional tasks and activities.

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Furthermore, children and families are encouraged to support academic skills and social-emotional health through activities that extend beyond assigned remote learning work.

30+ Suggestions for Additional Activities in different categories by the Illinois State Board of Education:


  • Read, e.g. independent reading
  • Listen to someone else read, audiobooks
  • Puzzles, Word Searches
  • Write/tell a story
  • Count money
  • Draw a map of your neighborhood
  • Build with blocks or Legos
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Watch a documentary


  • Take a walk
  • Dance
  • Exercise
  • Fine/gross motor activities
  • Stretch or do yoga
  • Play a sport


  • Listen to music or sing
  • Playing (inside or outside)
  • Creative arts
  • Coloring or drawing
  • Imaginative play
  • Meditate
  • Do something you’ve been avoiding


  • Clean up your room
  • Do age-appropriate chores
  • Gardening
  • Fix something broken
  • Take care of pets or plants
  • Cook or bake


  • Write a letter to someone
  • Play board games with a family member
  • Tell jokes or riddles
  • Build a fort and tell stories in it
  • Offer to help someone


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