Thursday, July 28, 2011

Guest Post: Fighting Off Your Preschoolers Summer Boredom

I've been fortunate enough to have the lovely Emily Patterson from Primrose Preschools offer to guest post for me today, while I'm off enjoying the sunny California landscape with my extended family. Thank you, Emily!

With only a month or two left of summer, you're child probably feels like they have done everything so far this summer and undoubtedly utter those words that no parent wants to here: "I'm bored!" But with some imagination and planning ahead
by parents, you can be sure to fight off boredom for the rest of the summer months…and at the same time stimulation your child's learning process so that they don't lose what they have learned.

Studies show that without stimulation, children can lose up to 60 percent of what they learned during the school year. Primrose Schools, a family of 200 accredited private preschools, suggests the key to overcoming summertime boredom and the “brain drain” effect is to encourage imaginative play and have a plan in place to keep children engaged during the
summer months.

Summer is also a great time to encourage children to let their imaginations soar. School schedules can sometimes be demanding and time for less structured, imaginative activities is often scarce. The freedom of summer gives children large blocks of uninterrupted time to create projects of their own choosing that can last several days or even longer.

Here are a few ideas parents can use to keep young minds active:

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. Next, write everyone’s ideas down on slips of paper and as a group decide which ones should go in the jar. Anyone in the family can pull any idea out of the jar to fight the summertime boredom blues.

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 a book with your children and have them act out their own scenes that come from the book or create the world that the book lives

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. They’ll probably have some good ideas of other household items that can be recycled to fuel their creative energies.

4. 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. All the items you need can be found around the house–some chairs, cushions, blankets… and of course adult supervision.

5. 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…and you can teach your children to make smart and healthy choices in the kitchen as well.

6. 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? This is similar to watching the clouds and naming the shapes, and it encourages everyone to slow down and focus on listening.

7. Camping Out: Pretend to campout in the backyard. Plan a meal, pack a backpack and set up a campsite. You might
even decide to spend the night!

8. Scavenger Hunt: Make a list or picture cards of common household items and have your children find the items on the list. You can do this just with your family or invite friends and neighbors to join to make it a competition.

Ultimately, we know every child is different, with different interests and learning styles so having a variety of ideas is a great way to be prepared during the summer months. Involving children in the planning of ideas gives them an opportunity to
express their individuality and creativity.

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.

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