As schools across Hong Kong close for the Summer, children look forward to a well-deserved respite from the hectic school schedule. Typically, many parents have already enrolled their children in summer programmes as early as January, if overseas. Planning what’s best for their child, traditionally moves to this conclusion: keep them busy and learning. In many cases, even as adults, the first goal is to rest, relax and catch up on one’s personal, quality time, alone or with family.
As an Educator and Counsellor, I believe children need down time to play freely allowing them to do all the small, simpler activities they enjoy. This could include building models, play acting with toys or dolls, watching TV, playing computer or tablet games, and most valuable, playing with friends.
After the threshold has been reached and boredom sets in, parents usually instigate for control and scheduling. This is an opportune time to have meaningful discussion about how to use precious, summer holiday time. Prompting and reflective dialogue often helps to give them some control in the negotiation, usually a blend of the wants from both sides.
I believe boredom is the fine line between having something to do and, often perceived and not always true, nothing to do. However, out from that fine line shines the possibilities of new ideas. This could be a hobby, a visit, a new sport, or a trip to the museum or Science Centre. It can be anything that helps to build new ideas, insights, and fascination from new situations. For example, a day camp has the potential to build social skills that could bolster a shy individual, or an afternoon trial lesson in another language, or a musical instrument may trigger a lifelong passion for it.
Some activities, if designed in a clever manner, have the potential to build on challenging school subjects; for example, fun science experiments themed with math, drama and writing (or reading), drama combined with music (or video making and editing), cooking and math skills, coding and logical thinking, general studies, graphic design and research skills. The thoughtful parent will look for these connections.
The next time your child is bored, ask him/her, “What do you want to do?” and watch the possibilities fly!