You know you will hear it, it’s just a matter of when: that inevitable summer slogan of, “But, I’m booooooored!” After a school year of fairly structured time, children often feel unoccupied or under-stimulated when left with unstructured time. This summer, try to think of boredom as a teaching opportunity. Boredom gives children the opportunity to develop essential life skills — being creative and developing their own activities, entertaining themselves, and becoming self-sufficient.
So when the boredom bell inevitably rings, use this opportunity to teach your children the value of unstructured time and empower them with the confidence to make the most out of their freedom. Help them to unplug by setting and enforcing limits on social media use, and encourage them to use their time more creatively. The following are a few ways for children to use their time creatively and leisurely this summer:
Read. Go to the library regularly. Switch things up by reading in new places, such as the park or a cozy spot outside. Have a Family Book Club by choosing a theme and having each member read an age-appropriate book on that theme. Have each child discuss what their stories had in common, what they liked or didn’t like, and describe the characters.
Make a Music Video, Play, Radio Show or Write A Book. Does your child love a particular summer hit song? Have them make their own music video. Or maybe your child will discover a love for journalism through hosting their own radio show, which they could start by interviewing a family member or close friend. A favorite children’s book could be the script for a play, or challenge your child to write his own script. Encourage your child to use technology creatively by using a phone or tablet camera or movie-making app to record his creations.
Cook or Bake. Allow your child to research a recipe he or she is interested in preparing, and make a list of the necessary ingredients. Involve them in shopping for any needed ingredients and reading the recipe to follow directions. Give it added purpose by preparing it for someone special or having a bake sale to incorporate basic business principles. Teach responsibility by having a night that the kids are allowed to choose the dinner menu and are responsible for its preparation.
Go on A Scavenger Hunt. This is a great way to slow down and see your neighborhood differently. Before heading out, brainstorm some items you expect to find, hope to see, and would be excited to find. You can capture your finds either by bringing them home or with a photo.
Make Something For Someone. Teach empathy and compassion by having your child use her time and talents to make something for someone else. Whether it’s drawing, crafting, baking, or volunteering, there are endless ways to use your time to help others.
Puzzles! Encourage family community time by setting up a large jigsaw puzzle that the whole family can work on together over the course of a week or two.
Ask Your Kids. At the beginning of the summer, engage your children in brainstorming some creative and productive ways they would like to spend their time. Make a list and post it for your child to refer to when he or she is “bored”.
Do you have any advice for our St. Cecelia Community of Parents to help with unstructured time? Comment below and we will share your ideas.
St. Cecelia Interparochial Catholic School (SCS) offers an academically challenging and globally minded interdisciplinary education to children in PreK-3 through 8th grade.