WORDS BY HEATHER MCCONNELL BROWN
With summer on the horizon many people start to ponder summer vacations. Especially those with school aged children and their impending break. I would like to ask those that have children to please consider this article when planning your vacation and your upcoming summer.
After being in the classroom, I have come to realize that so many of our traditions of childhood and summer have gone by the wayside. I know many of you now have minivans equipped with DVD players that can easily accommodate movies and even games. Let me preface this article with: .I have been there. I know what a four hour plus car ride is like with little children. I know just how easy it is to pop in a movie. I’m not asking for you to give up your peace – I’m just asking for you to consider integrating a few of these things into your summer.
- Card games – yes, please bring out UNO, Old Maid, teach them Go Fish, Spades, Rummy, Hearts, War, Solitaire – teach them how to shuffle cards.
- While you are out to eat and waiting on your food – play Tic-tac-Toe. I was amazed this year when I assigned a project and told them to pick three squares, like Tic-Tac-Toe and the clueless looks they gave me. I know we live in a digital world now – but these children need to know how to play games and entertain themselves not using digital devices. These suggestions are just a few.
- Grab some sidewalk chalk at the dollar store – draw a hopscotch pattern and play! Grab a beanbag or rock and play! Throw in some history and tell them about how Roman soldiers played hopscotch to test their strength and speed.
- Alphabet Car Game – I’m sure everyone reading this article has played this game. Play on a road trip while it’s still daylight – save the movie for when it’s dark. You will have your kids racing to beat mom and dad and especially their siblings.
- Dominos – You would be surprised at how much they will enjoy building and watching. This will also help them learn patience…and something they very rarely experience nowadays…delayed gratification. With electronics and social media everything is instant. To see them experience dominos for the first time is always an awesome experience.
- Hula hoop- Grab one and join in on the fun. This is bound to give you and them laughter. Purchase two if you are good and beat them!
- Jump rope – Teach them the songs, that you sung on the playground.
- Pick up a fishing pole – This is by far one of my fondest memories. Sitting on the pier – at the beach or the lake…I could sit for hours and fish.
- Boredom – Yes, I know this one is an easy one and good news it’s free! But let your little ones experience boredom. The last time you were probably bored was when the internet was down. Think about this from the eyes of your children. When we were bored growing up, this is when we played – outside, made up games, painted, got dirty in the mud. Boredom indeed sews the seeds of creativity in our children. Give your children the gift of boredom – this will fuel their creativity and in doing so it will help in brain growth. Remember their frontal lobe is not fully developed until they are 27. Studies have even shown how due to the lack of boredom – children and young adults don’t know how to handle down time. They can’t unplug – and this is causing more anxiety and stress than ever before in our young people. So this summer- give them boredom – and you might just be helping with not only their creative forces now but anxiety later. There is absolutely nothing wrong with boredom – and being able to find your own solution to boredom is nothing short of fantastic! Let them pump their legs to see how high they can go on the swings, let them play outside and get dirty – not just push buttons on an iPad or TV. I realize the notion of setting aside time to let them be bored may sound peculiar or odd to you. However, consider what you get in return for boredom: creativity, brain development, problem solving, self-awareness…the payback doesn’t seem such a bad price to pay. They may just find a way to entertain themselves, to find out who they are versus who we want them to be – and what a wonderful gift you will have given them.
All of these things can easily be done on a “staycation”. We have plenty of fun places in Gaston County to go and visit without ever leaving the county. Between the Schiele Museum and all of the free parks in the area, Gaston County is a great place to spend some time exploring and ending any day at Tony’s Ice Cream makes for a great one. Always remember, these are the days you are giving of your time. They will never know the price of your vacation or staycation, only the sweet memories. And don’t forget, creative play in children creates adults that are problem solvers. So have fun this summer inside or outside of Gaston County. Play games and disconnect – the return will be connecting once again with your past, your creativity and your children. What a wonderful gift of memories you will be giving them!
Heather lives in Mt. Holly, is married to a Genius, loves her children and anything Carolina Blue. Contact her at [email protected]