Boredom – Surviving Summer Break from a Homeschool Mom

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I get a little giggly when summer break is around the corner and all my school mom friends begin to worry and stress about what they are going to do with their kids all. summer. long. A huge question I get asked as a homeschool mom is, “what do you do with your kids all the time so they don’t get bored?” And the answer might surprise you, we do a lot and we also do a whole lot of ‘nothing’. 

Boredom is a gift to your child. In a world where your child spends most of their day following the lead of an adult, summer is a glorious opportunity for a creativity reset. My kids know that I won’t entertain them but I will partner with them. So, carpe diem! Go build, create, invent, imagine, move, explore, ponder or stare at the ceiling if you dare. When I hear my children begin to complain at the hint of boredom I exult, “Beautiful, you’re on the cusp of creativity!” (And I often, embarrassingly, raise a finger while I say it. Cue the eye roll!)

Here’s my secret magic trick as a homeschool mom. There’s a concept of homeschooling called ‘unschooling.’ The idea is that your child is a creative, curious and courageous person who will discover all they need to know if they are put in the way of beautiful, educational ideas and concepts—all without a formal curriculum. 

One idea that I have captured from unschooling is the concept of strewing. Strewing is a word that describes the active part you take as a parent in putting your kids ‘in the way’ of beautiful concepts and ideas. To strew literally means to scatter, spread, and litter. When I feel a change in energy is needed, I simply walk into my playroom, find something we haven’t played with in a while and I put it out in a new spot. If it’s magna tiles, I’ll take them to the big open space. If it’s art and crafts or puzzles, onto the kitchen table they go. Sometimes I will grab all of our encyclopedias and some fun toddler books and put them all over the kitchen table and declare that is ‘search and snack’ time while serving them a morning or afternoon snack. 

Sometimes, all you need to do is provide your children with a spark. Part of my strategy for strewing is purchasing and curating a collection of items and things that are not a one-time, narrow use object. Much of what we have collected are open-ended items that allow them to build, create or imagine in a new way, each time they play.

The more space you allow your children to sit in their boredom and adjust to taking the lead back on their exploration, the more independence they will foster towards creativity. Boredom is the space from which many creative ideas have been born. All it might take is a little pre-planning on your part. 

Here’s what we own to support my kids with plenty of opportunities for creativity: 

  1. Nearly all of our ‘toys’ function as building materials that can be used differently every single time you take them out (and the best part is, they work for my 8, 5, & 3 year old!)
  1. We have bins of ‘stuff’ that is perfect for art or tinkering 
      • Pom-poms
      • Cardboard
      • Play doh
      • Yarn
      • Scissors
      • Pipe cleaner
      • Recyclables
      • Popsicles
      • Rubber band
      • Glue, tape, hot glue
      • Jewelry making kits
  1. Imaginary and make believe play
      • Dress-up
      • Little people
      • Baby dolls, strollers, cribs
      • Barbie house
      • Fort building supplies (sheets, sticks, chairs etc.)
      • Create a Story Cards https://amzn.to/3w5wpyq
  1. Problem-solving skills & STEM
      • Puzzles
      • Chess & other board games
      • Build kits from Kiwi Co (usually has a summer kit subscription) & Crunch Labs
      • Tangrams https://amzn.to/3UD1rH6

 

These are just ideas for things you to begin collecting. Second-hand stores, the great outdoors and toy-swapping with friends are alternatives for low budget options. You can collect a lot of what you would consider trash that your child will consider treasure. Think things like recyclables, sticks, rocks, cans, string, old kitchen gadgets, buttons, sewing kit items, old tools from the garage and many dollar store items.

Your summer will probably be filled with travel, swimming, play dates, summer camps, VBS camps and most likely some screen time to burn away the 120 degree days. But don’t forget to carve out some time and space for your kids to get a little bored so they can get really creative.

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