Croakers Square

“I’m bored!”

If you have children, you’ve probably heard that line so many times it hurts. For a child, the words “I’m bored” usually translate to “Give me something to do that I find interesting.” The problem is, things kids find interesting–24/7 video games, playing with firecrackers, Cartoon Network, whatever–are often not in their best interests. So what’s a parent to do?

There are, of course, no end to the various programs available for school-age children: sports, music lessons, cheerleading, clubs, etc. But what about something a little different? If you’re looking for spare time activities a little outside the norm, here are a few suggestions.

Square dancing – Was there any doubt this was going to be the first idea on the list? A child’s first response to square dancing is likely to be less than enthusiastic. But square dancing has many things to recommend it. It provides great physical activity, helps develop coordination and balance, and shows kids that real social interaction does not require emojis.

Plus, while kids may not believe it, square dancing is intellectually stimulating in that it demands actually listening to a chain of commands, remembering those commands, and executing them correctly and in time. Last but not least, it’s fun.

Craft workshops – Area stores like Home Depot offer weekend classes that build kids’ interest and abilities in using small hand tools. These do-it-yourself workshops help build confidence through a mixture of live demonstrations, hands-on learning, and expert instruction reference materials. Children of all ages and experience levels can practice their skills, learn new techniques, and develop creativity — all in a safe, dynamic environment.

Learn a language – The minds of children are still developing; high plasticity of their brains makes childhood the perfect time to get kids learning a foreign language. Studies have shown that learning languages helps exercise the brain, is useful later in life, and shows kids a whole world beyond what they normally interact with. As a twist on this idea, consider having kids learn American Sign Language.

Community Service – Kids should be taught the value of volunteering their time as early as possible. Children who volunteer for community projects can gain everything from increased self-esteem to valuable job skills. Taking kids outside their normal sphere can help them build relationships with people they might otherwise never meet. And it’s a great way to apply academic learning to real-world needs. (Check out this resource for creative community service ideas).

Study – Especially during the summer, keeping up with academics is always good. Local tutoring classes are an option; some schools offer learning programs that encourage or even incentivize kids to study.

Kids don’t need to be entertained every minute of the day, but planning some fun activities into their schedules isn’t bad. With a little creativity and imagination, you can turn a child on to something other than turning on social media. While we hope it’s square dancing, but whatever you choose, there are too many opportunities available for children to ever have reason to say “I’m bored!”

Of course, that won’t actually stop them from saying it … it’s just part of being a kid.

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