So next week is our mid-semester break. It’s a week off for our students but not necessarily for our parents. An important part of the break is that our kids take some time to rest and step away from the busy work of school. That said, a problem with an extended break like this is that our students can get bored pretty quickly. When that happens they will follow the path of least resistance, which generally means they will head towards a screen of some kind – TV, computer, XBox, iPad, etc. The screen time can climb dramatically over a break.
A suggestion for a break like this is to create the opportunity for your child to make something. This can be anything but needs to be something that is made by them. Making something engages the creative side of our brain in ways that screens cannot. It involves not only creativity but also often problem-solving, overcoming failure, and perseverance. Do those sound familiar? I would even go so far as to suggest that you “bribe” them if needed to get them to make something. A reward of some kind could be enough for them to get up and get it done. If needed, make the reward big enough to motivate them off the couch and into action.
So here are some ideas for “making” something:
- Buy a puzzle and tell them they cannot have Internet access until it is done. When it is done you can actually have it framed.
- Buy a coloring book and have them color a certain number of pages. (Before you throw this one out because your kids are in high school, you should know that there is a huge trend now with adults buying coloring books and coloring as a stress reliever. If you don’t believe me, do a search on the web to see how big this is becoming.)
- Have them learn how to bake something or how to make pancakes. (Which they can then make for themselves once they know how.) Motivation on this one is that they eat what they make.
- Take a trip out to the Craft Batik factory where they can make their own batik. (It is a pretty cool experience and something everyone should do before they leave the island of Penang.)
- Buy a model airplane/car, which can be a lot of fun for any student of any age, even if they have never done it before.
- Buy a book on magic tricks (or card tricks) and have them learn one each day of the holiday. (Again, the Internet not being turned on until they do is a great motivator.)
- Send them outdoors with a camera, and ask them to capture the world as they see it. The end result may be a colorful collage or some pretty pictures to have framed.
- Check into a pottery class at Asia Pottery at the corner of the Botanical Gardens. Creating something out of clay can be therapeutic and fun at any age.
- Look at your craft supplies at home and see what your kids can create – anything from macaroni jewelry to painted flower pots.
- For older kids, put the challenge to them. They have to make something during the break. Let them decide what it is and how to do it. Again the reward needs to be significant enough to get them motivated and to get going.
The key here is to get them to “make something” during the break. They will probably fight you on this, but if you stick to your guns, when they are done they will have a sense of accomplishment. It will also have helped with the boredom and the lazy answer most of our kids have for that – screen time.