Is your child bored again and whining for the umpteenth time? Because most of his days are so structured, with classes and activities to occupy him, he doesn’t know how to keep himself busy when he has free time, like during the school holidays. So, he becomes bored easily.
It’s time for you to teach him to find things to occupy himself with to prevent boredom – without getting into trouble or burning the house down, of course! Rather than simply trying to think of specific activities to keep Junior busy when he has free time (typically, after kindergarten finishes each weekday, the weekends and school breaks), encourage him to impose some sort of structure.
That doesn’t mean he should have every minute meticulously planned, but it does mean he should have some idea of how he will spend his next period of leisure time.
That’s why setting a “free-time” schedule can be helpful, because it will aid him in organising his time more effectively. That way, he can have fun thinking about what lies ahead, and not worry about boredom the moment he has a few hours to spare.
WHAT’S THE PLAN?
When you discuss a schedule with him, make sure it isn’t too rigid – it shouldn’t rule your child, but be a way of helping him gain maximum enjoyment. His free-time schedule can be either of these things:
Activity-based He can have a pre-planned list of specific activities to keep him busy, such as painting, swimming, reading or playing computer games. He can then decide to work through these activities in a specific or random order.
Pre-planning like this is easier than waiting until he is free before thinking about what to do. For instance, drawing and painting requires the preparation of craft materials, and swimming requires the pool to be open.
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Time-based Another type of schedule involves looking at your child’s free time for the entire week, drawing up a list of the leisure activities he could complete during that time, and then scheduling a general plan to fit everything in.
With this approach, your child knows that he has to fill an exact amount of time on these days with leisure activities, but he doesn’t have to specify them in advance. True, your child might groan when you suggest this idea, but stick with it anyway. You’ll be surprised how quickly his excitement builds once he realises what creating a schedule involves. Remind him that setting one up gives him something to look forward to.
But don’t be too ambitious and plan for the next six months! At first, look at, say, the next week. Talk about how much free time he is likely to have in that week and note it down. Then start to match possible activities to each period – for instance, on Monday after kindergarten, he’ll try to finish that large jigsaw that he abandoned mid-completion; on Tuesday after kindergarten, he’ll read one of his library books; on Saturday morning, he’ll play in the park.
Keep an eye on him to make sure he follows the plan. You will notice a difference in his enthusiasm and attitude once the schedule is underway. And as he gets into the habit of organising his leisure time this way, gradually encourage him to take responsibility for it, rather than wait for you to make all the suggestions; he’s certainly old enough to manage this by himself. Cries of “I’m bored, Mum” will become a distant memory.