Staying off kids’ summer boredom
Most mothers with school-age children view the beginning of summer and vacation time with ambivalent feelings.
On the plus side, they picture a less hectic schedule. The timing is more relaxed. Children won’t have to be put to bed at an exact time and alarm clocks wont’ have to ring as early. There won’t be the deadlines of extra school activities, practice sessions, car pools and meetings.
On the other side, the familiar call of “Mommy, there is nothing to do today” looms ahead like a dark cloud.
Many parents, particularly when both work, have to come up with new summer activities. Vacations, visits with grandmother and even camp days won’t fill all the days.
To avoid the boredom and repetition that frequently arise and that may not be psychologically healthy for the child, parents may wish to consider some of the following suggestions:
• Establish a work schedule. Plan a daily routine for the entire family – a routine that deviates from the school year’s daily activities. Assign duties such as washing breakfast dishes, weeding, washing and storing storm windows, mowing the yard or caring for younger children in the neighborhood. Parents may want to consider providing an extra allowance for a job well done.
These responsibilities enhance a sense of accomplishment and promote a feeling of contribution to the entire family’s well-being. Some parents team up with kinds in the summer to build, repair or renovate something at home.
• Plan for spiritual growth. Many churches offer vacation Bible school classes. Th4e outcome can be a growth in spiritual life, as well as an opportunity to enlarge the circle of friends.
• Plan for educational enrichment. Junior colleges and local schools offer classes that allow students to explore areas outside the regular school curriculum. Classes are available in microcomputer, music, art, dance, sports, lifesaving, etc. Recreational plans for youngsters include day camps, which teach a variety of skills.
Educational opportunities do not have to be confined to structured classes. Participation in neighborhood groups or simply a visit by parent and child to a library or museum afford an opportunity to develop interests. Library reading programs stimulate young readers.
Neighborhoods can form study and activity groups. Each parent can take time – a few hours – to be the group leader. This frees other parents from supervising and teaches young children to take direction from other people. It also provides time for socializing and interaction. Short trips to the zoo, parks, dinosaur tracks, wildflower reserves and other places are fun and easily planned.
• Correct educational lags. Although the summer basically should be a time of relaxation and change, remedial classes for a student who lags behind in reading or math often improve a child’s self-concept and help him look forward to a better school year in the fall.
• Explore career opportunities. Children often can visit the parents’ work place during the summer and gain insight into the kind of work their parents do. This assists them in making career choices. Some companies encourage this practice and provide tours of the plant or office. Others offer older students an opportunity to volunteer for duties that increase career information.
• Encourage volunteer work. Hospitals and other service facilities have formal volunteer programs. Students learn to help others less fortunate.
• Build family rapport. Summer for families can be a fun time with picnics, hikes, fishing trips, vacations and relaxation. But it should mean more than simply letting children sit and watch TV all day or roam the neighborhood without supervision. Planning for those long, lazy days ahead can improve the health of every family.
Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright 1987