Today I heard a parent say “I try and schedule some fun, because my kids work hard learning all week.” Then I heard a provider say “I try and schedule a lot of learning into a little amount of time, because parents don’t want to help with homework.” I say “at home, schools, daycare center, etc… we can schedule time that is filled with learning and filled with fun…and have time to relax and enjoy ‘free time’!”
In our last blog I rambled about planning goals for kids and planning activities to keep them busy. When our kids are busy there are less moments of chaos, because most chaotic moments are created from “being bored” (some kids “find trouble” because they don’t know how to “find something to do” and want your attention). Other crazy moments are created because they are not being guided through an activity and/or don’t know how to handle a situation (and need your attention). Don’t worry – I’m not saying fill your schedule with guided activities 24/7. But I am saying to make sure you fill your schedule with some slots for working through situations, such as “how do you find something to do when you’re bored.” AND make yourself accessible to step in during free-play activities to guide “what to do when both of you want the same toy,” etc… As much as we want kids to just figure these things out on their own, “these things” work out easier when we teach them such skills. We teach our kids steps for learning to reading and doing math problems… even though some of that is learned through life it works better through instruction… same with social/emotional skills. Check out this site for soc/emo development information.
That is why we’re talking about a balancing act of scheduling both learning and fun in ALL the environments your kids need to thrive in (not just survive in). Kids who just watch tv at home are not learning how to handle life skills and kids who sit at desks doing worksheets all day are missing out on the same learning experience. Hand’s on fun = learning experiences. During activities take note of what topics they are engaged in. Do they have more discussion about bugs than baseball when your outdoors? Do they like dramatic play more than building toys when inside? Encourage their interests and try and offer more times for them to explore their talents and build hobbies… But also offer time for them to learn more about the pieces that are more difficult for them as maybe it’s something they would like to know more about, or need to conquer, but just need time and encouragement.
As kids get older you’ll find them talking about turning their interests into their future jobs. Encourage this, but also encourage them keeping their minds open as time and interest change things. I often hear parents complaining about their jobs (and sadly providers too) creating anxiety in kids about not wanting to grow up. If you don’t like your position, look for ways to change it, and talk about how you’re working on reaching your own goals and how they can too… Always focus on the positive. The facts that you work to pay the bills and survive adulthood are important lessons, but more so are the facts that if you are happy – you will be more productive and therefore more successful. Not the other way around (working hard and becoming “successful” does not bring happiness.) Check out this video for more on that topic ~ and check back with us for more info on planning activities and organizing your kids positive summer experiences!