School's out for the summer. That means the jam-packed season of productive, intellectually stimulating, character-building activities for our nation's children has just begun.
What if you missed your chance to enroll your child in swim lessons, code camp or parkour camp? You have a reason to celebrate. Not only will you save thousands of dollars, but your kid just might be better off. Because psychologists say one of the best things for young minds is... doing nothing. That's right. What your kids should do this summer is slip into some good old-fashioned boredom.
Psychologists and child development experts have started to warn against over scheduling your kid's summer because it prevents them from discovering what truly interests them, reports Quartz. "Your role as a parent is to prepare children to take their place in society," child psychologist Lyn Fry told Quartz. "If parents spend all their time filling up their child's spare time, then the child's never going to learn to do this for themselves."
The benefits of boredom
Instead of keeping your child entertained and engaged in activities throughout the summer, Fry and other child psychologists urge parents to celebrate the benefits of boredom. Studies and research suggest links between boredom and creativity, problem solving and self resilience.
Kids have complained about being bored since the beginning of time. But as the pressure to maximize every spare minute of our child's lives grows, kids might never learn what it's actually like to be bored. Summer is the perfect opportunity to "teach" this valuable skill. Some parents are making it a mission to induce boredom on their kids this summer.
"Our kids are summer camp dropouts," boasts journalist Brian Donohue in a column for New Jersey Advance Media. "Here's my primary goal for our kids this summer: boredom. I want them bored stiff. I want to see them wandering around the block with nothing to do. Along with the whir of cicadas and the boom of summer thunderstorms, I want to hear the sweet summertime sound of exasperated sighs of ennui."
How to overcome boredom
But anyone who has been around a broken-record kid complaining "I'm bored" over and over understand it's not easy. How do you empower kids to flex their imaginative muscles to overcome boredom?
Child psychologist Lyn Fry offered Quartz an idea. At the beginning of the summer, she suggests you sit down with your kids and write down a list of things they might enjoy doing this summer. Include a variety of activities, from basic ones like re-reading all the books in their favorite series or going for a bike ride, to more complicated ones like cooking a meal from a country they'd like to visit or inventing their own board game. When those dreaded words are uttered, encourage your kids to go back to the list and pick an activity.
After a summer of finding creative ways to entertain themselves, maybe your kids will even unleash a new passion for, say, parkour. And, you won't even need to drop $500 for parkour camp.