Many parents look forward to children’s vacations from school but each summer also brings dread. What do you do when the kids finally utter the first ‘I’m bored’?
Boredom can be so pervasive for kids during summer that they could almost taste it – and if they did, it would be similar to week-old socks with a hint of sweat and gutter dirt. After my stroke and being unable to do much else, I played computer games till I thought I was losing what few marbles I had left. That was when I decided that no matter how much it hurt or how tough the struggle, I would learn something new. I learned more about Word documents, about genealogy, how to blog, then wrote articles and posted them on the blog, then I tackled Photoshop and HTML. Learning and doing something productive every day probably saved my life. The day that I learned how to create a rainbow in Photoshop I was so proud that I honestly felt like celebrating. I believe children, given the challenge, can quash their own boredom and learn on their own when given the challenge and opportunity.
How do you get children interested in learning?Disguise learning as fun for kids and show them the exciting things available. In StoryJumper children can create story books online using props, scenes, photos and text. Within a few minutes I created a character I called Victor Viking who, oddly enough, reminds me of my husband and no longer lives in the land of Boredom. There is no cost involved and the program is for kids in grade 1st to 5th grade, although, I enjoyed it immensely.
Challenging children to solve a problem or to come up with a solution is the ultimate contemporary jigsaw puzzle. In Design Squad Nation, kids find a category that interests them among art, fashion, games, food, music, robots, flying and more. Videos present an idea or problem and children think up designs that may improve on or solve an issue like Deysi’s jacket, lined with bubble wrap to keep warm. The possibilities are endless and kids are recognized for their creations.
Pay children to learn, explore and create. The currency does not have to be cash. Learning to use and apply what is learned takes time and thought, deciding what parents use for currency may be the simplest part. Preparing a child’s favorite dinner is payment. Doing one of the child’s chores for them is payment. Over the years I have known parents who used game time, trips for fast food, to the mall, the movies or the craft store to shop as payment. If my girls were still young I might suggest one completed learning project would be worth five points toward a trip to the craft store for art or beading supplies that may require 75 points.
Demanding a child learn something does not work as well as lighting the spark of creativity and imagination. That spark, once lighted, is difficult to extinguish. The love of learning is what we all carry within us that pushes us one step further to pick up another book, to ask why, to try another way or to scrap it and start over. The contemporary Maker Movement capitalizes on that drive to learn for the next crop of future inventors, creators, explorers and entrepreneurs. Any child could be part of that crop.
PHOTO CREDIT: StoryJumper, PBS Design Squad Nation-Deysi & Bubble Wrap
Jackie Saulmon Ramirez has served as a volunteer with Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc. for more than twenty years, giving and getting support. Find her blog here.