#SELChat: 4 Ways Parents Can Spark Summertime Creativity
School’s almost out for the summer, opening up at least an extra 35 hours of time each week for kids to learn and play outside of their normal structure and routine. That likely means some time watching TV or advancing through the levels of a favorite video game, which can both be fun and worthwhile. But, for many parents, there’s still a goal of limiting how much total time kids spend sitting in front of a screen. In a previous era, it was a given that kids would spend their summertime outdoors, from sunrise until it was time to rush to the dinner table. That’s no longer the norm, but there are still plenty of different ways for kids to spend their summer days. What can parents plan for?
Of course, the first thing many parents might hear when putting a limit on device time is a loud chorus of “I’m bored!” Contrary to kids’ opinions (and sometimes parents’ opinions), though, boredom is not bad. It’s a typical first reaction to the concept of unstructured time, especially in our heavily-scheduled modern era―when there’s often a consistent string of external stimuli, from school to soccer practice to homework to TV, and so on, an open calendar can seem…boring. But, with the right mindset, unstructured time is understood as freeing. It is the time when kids can explore, figure out what they’re most passionate about, and learn to become self-directed in determining their activities and projects. Unstructured time, or “boredom,” is a breeding ground for creativity―thinking of new ideas; dreaming of what can be. Boredom is, in a sense, the transitional phase between an externally-driven activity and the point when a child takes control of their own narrative.
So how do we jump-start our child’s self-directed creative motor? Whether you are a parent yourself, an educator sending your students off into the summer break, or both, there are lots of productive ways we can encourage kids to use their valuable time wisely. Here are a few ideas to share:
• Be active! Practice your favorite sport. There are a lot of sports camps where you can learn to perfect your skills. Or maybe you could find a new activity, like bike riding or trail running. You can exercise with your friends. Have a good time and stay fit!
• Read for the fun of it! Visit your local library or your favorite book store and discover what types of stories you like best. Sci-fi? Pioneer? Mysteries? Journey to another planet. Meet the Queen of England. Answer questions about life as a Mayan warrior. Get lost in a book!
• Volunteer! Whether it’s helping at the local animal shelter, teaching younger kids at summer camp or traveling to another country on a mission trip, there’s a lot you can do to give to others. For ideas, check out the bulletin board at your local community center or place of worship.
• Try something new! Have you ever wanted to learn how to play the guitar, speak Spanish or make a cheesecake? Well, here’s your chance! Make a list of things you’d like to do, and then do it! You’ve got plenty of time to try. And your friends and family will probably thank you for your efforts in the kitchen.
Parents, please send me stories about the great things you and your family are doing over the next few months―I’d love to hear from you! Send me an email or connect on Twitter. Enjoy your summer…and remember to Love In A Big World!