“I’m bored” How many times have you heard this phrase from your child? It is a problem that parents often feel they need to solve right away. But being bored is not always a bad thing.
The Value of Boredom
Unstructured time is important for a child’s development. As adults we need to manage our time and children need to gain experience in what to do during unscheduled times of the day. Downtime also gives children the opportunity to use their imagination. Creativity happens most often when there is nothing to do and boredom often leads to creative play. When we overschedule our children’s days, we are taking this unplugged, downtime away from them.
How To Approach Downtime
When your child has unstructured time don’t be tempted to fill it up with structured activities. Instead help them think through how to use that time with activities that nurture creativity, innovation and problem solving.
By providing your child with materials that are open-ended in nature without a defined outcome, such as a cardboard box, you are giving their imagination a boost and helping them to explore their passions.
Make the Most of It
There are many ways parents can help children make the most of this time and in return hear less cries of boredom. Here are some ideas to get you started thinking.
- Dress up clothes: From superheroes to princesses to firefighters, your child will enjoy role playing and acting.
- Art materials: A box with construction paper, crayons, markers, glue sticks and scissors lets kids be creative without a defined purpose. Maybe they’ll draw a picture, design a card or make a paper airplane.
- Cardboard box: Put those Amazon boxes to good use. Kids love them and can spend hours pretending it is a rocket ship, a house or a truck. Young children will love crawling in and out of the box or playing hide and seek.
- Blocks: Block play requires fine and gross motor skills and encourages problem solving skills. Plus it’s fun to see how high you can build a tower before it collapses!
- Games: Games like I Spy and bingo help develop vocabulary and comprehension skills.
- Surprise bag: Keep a special bag filled with goodies that you can give your child when they are bored. Stickers, play dough and a deck of cards are a few suggestions. Rotate different items occasionally so the contents of the bag are a surprise.