March break panic has set in - what are you going to do to keep your kids occupied all day? There are some great lessons to be learned from not jam-packing every minute of every day with activities. It will save yourself some stress and teach your child how to begin learning the art of entertaining themselves!
- A healthy amount of boredom is okay! Don’t constantly rush in to alleviate boredom. This will help motivate your child to find new ways to entertain himself.
- Don't assume it is your job to be your child’s full-time entertainer. It is a common mistake we make, so try to monitor yourself. One of the most important skills you can teach your child is how to find their own fun – how to figure out ways to entertain themselves.
- Don't have too much stuff around. Children, like adults, can be overwhelmed by too many choices. Try to organize the play materials that are on hand in ways that make it easy for your child to see what the options are. For example, if your child is a visual learner, you might create a play idea book. Take some photos of your child engaged in various activities and use these photos to create a book of play ideas and continue to add to it over time. You can even get your child involved in taking some of the photos of his/her favourite activities.
- When your child says "I'm bored," don't solve the boredom problem for him. Instead, help develop skills for dealing with that problem. Say, "Hmmm" and see what he says next. Encourage him to think about and work out what he feels like doing. Does his body feel like moving? Do his hands feel like creating something? Does his voice feel like singing? Do his eyes feel like looking at or reading a book? Do his ears feel like listening to music? Over time, he will learn to go through this process in his own head when he is looking for ways to entertain himself.
- Make it easy for your child to engage in a many different types of play. Creative play, imaginative play, motor-skills activities (both gross motor and fine motor), play involving other children. Think about ways to minimize the amount of help your child will need from you. For example, if a toy or puzzle is stored in a frustrating container, switch it to another, easier to open container
- Finally, don't forget to spend plenty of one-on-one time with your child. You don’t want to completely ease out of your all-important role as your child's first teacher. You're simply trying to encourage a healthy balance of independent play and learning with time spent playing and learning with a parent or other adult.
March Break is meant for fun -- for you and your child. Be sure to schedule plenty of that too!
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