Sunday, June 12, 2011

GUEST BLOG POST: Eliminate Your Child's Summer Boredom

As summer approaches, what could be worse than a rainy summer day, when your children are cooped up inside and you have nothing planned? Even on sunny days, kids always seem to be utter those dreaded words “I’m bored!” So plan ahead with some of these tips to eliminate that problem as best possible…

Not only are these ideas fun but they are also educational and stimulating. Studies show that without stimulation, children can lose up to 60 percent of what they learned during the school year or time at preschool.

Here are just 10 ideas parents can use to keep young minds active during these up and coming summer months:

1. Beat the Boredom Jar: At the beginning of the summer, sit down with your family and brainstorm a list of activities that can be done alone or that you can enjoy doing together. Encourage your children to share their own ideas and help you decorate and label a simple jar as the family “Boredom Buster Jar.” They’ll feel more involved in the project and more likely to think this is a “neat” idea, if they participate in the creation and idea generation.

2. Stories Alive: It sounds too simple, but reading is one of the most important ways to keep young minds engaged during the summer. Make reading even more fun by finding ways to bring the stories to life. Read the book with your children and then challenge them to create their own scenes with materials they find in the backyard or house.

3. Art Treasure Chest: You’ll need to gather basic art supplies–child safe scissors, glue, markers, tape, and construction paper. Put them in a special box along with empty oatmeal boxes and paper towel rolls, colorful magazines, and bits of aluminum foil. Occasionally add a special surprise like chalk, stickers, or stamp pads so there’s always something new for the children to find. They’ll probably have some good ideas too so let them use those creative energies and contribute as well.

4. Family Performances: Break out old clothes or costumes and encourage children to make up characters and create a play to act out. Let them make their outfits, musical instruments and songs for the performance.

5. Fort Building: Children love to build all kinds of structures--from small towns to large towers. Constructing forts or tents is an activity that can keep children focused and problem solving for hours.

6. Cookbook Fun: Have you ever shared your favorite cookbook with your children? Take it out and ask your children to choose a recipe to try. Measuring can be a fun and easy way to keep math skills fresh. (Kitchen safety can be taught here too!)

7. Summer Scrapbook: All you need for this project is a spiral notebook. Encourage everyone in the family to draw pictures of favorite activities and collect mementos from special events throughout the summer. This can help with their storytelling skills and at the same time build memories.

8. Listening Game: Lie down in the backyard, in the den or at the park and listen. What do you hear? Do you hear what I hear? Can you imitate the sound? Encouraging everyone to slow down and focus on listening.

9. Camping Out: Pretend to campout in the backyard. Plan a meal, pack a backpack and set up a campsite. Plan some simple games or story telling/ghost story telling sessions, pitch a tent and stay for the night!

10. Scavenger Hunt: Who does love a good scavenger hunt?! Make a list or picture cards of common household items and have your children find the items on the list.

When preparing for a brain-drain-free summer, remember to suggest or provide age appropriate activities. Many times, children say they are bored because the activity they were doing was either too simple or too advanced to keep them occupied for long. Activities should be fun and challenge what they know, but should keep in line with the interests and developmental levels of your children.

Parents can use this list of ideas as a starting point for summer activities that offer a balance between the freedom of child-initiated play time and more structured activities.

Submitted by Emily Patterson on behalf of Primrose School preschools.



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