Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm bored...

The most dreaded words in the summer vocabulary.

And I wonder, how could a kid be bored in the summer? I can't ever remember saying those words in my whole life-and certainly not in the summer. Maybe because if I said them out loud as a child I would be given chores?

I was reading a Sonlight Forum post on this issue, and I loved what Merry said. It went something like this...

If my kids say they are bored I say, "Well, go outside and play for a while and when you come in I will have a chore for you to do." Amazingly, they play for hours outside and never remember they are bored."

I think some basic play equipment is very helpful to beat boredom. Depending on your living situation, some of these may be practical and some may not:
  • swing set
  • sand box-the bigger the better, you can't have too big of a sandbox
  • various balls
  • bean-bag toss game
  • basket ball net
  • soccer goal
  • tether ball
  • play house or designated play area in the shed or garage, if practical
  • hammer, wood, nails
  • perhaps a small wading pool
  • a pet
  • wagon
  • old stroller
  • bikes
  • chalk
  • paintbrushes and water [to paint on the sidewalk]
  • bubbles
  • sticks
  • own garden area
  • rope [jump rope]
  • pogo stick
  • mini [or full size] trampoline
  • camp in the backyard
For indoor boredom busters--my first and best advice-limit TV/Computer time. Maybe they have to read an hour a day and then they can play video games or watch the TV for an hour a day. Be careful with this, though. If you have multiple kids they may play the computer for 30 minutes, then watch their brother play for 30 minutes, then watch their other brother play for 30 minutes and now they have used up 1 1/2 hours with the computer. [Ask me how I know about this loop hole in the computer time rule!]

Use a timer and limit the time to something reasonable. For TV, we had a rule, no TV during the day. Then at night we would watch some show or DVD for about an hour. I have a friend who lets her children watch 60 minutes of cartoons in the morning, then the TV is off all day unless they watch something together as a family. Just find something that works for you.

In my experience the more computer/TV time children have, the more easily they are bored when the TV/Computer is not in use.

Now, for indoor boredom busters:
  • board games
  • card games
  • making forts under tables or on couches
  • puppet shows done behind the couch, any type of puppets, socks work great
  • making movies if your kids are old enough to use a video recorder. We have some awesome ones that the kids made that make us laugh every time we watch them
  • blocks
  • action figures/dolls
  • child kitchen
  • child workbench
  • match-box cars
  • Legos
  • play mobile
  • reading [you might want to require so many pages/minutes a day]
  • cooking/baking
  • science experiments
  • dusting
  • vacuuming
  • doing laundry
  • straighten room
  • sweep floor
  • empty dishwasher or wash dishes
  • camp in the family room-my dad actually pitched a real tent in the living room once!
  • water plants
  • draw, paint, color, stickers
  • play an instrument
  • sing
  • dance to music
  • have a tea party
  • dress up--keep a box with dress up clothes
  • etc.
Perhaps make a card with something to do on it and train your children to pull a card if they can't think of anything to do.

Perhaps ban the words "I'm bored" or "There's nothing to do," and instead teach your children to say, "I am looking for a job to do." My guess is, this will eliminate the need whine around and will encourage them to entertain themselves. :0)

Also, you may want to have some sort of summer schedule. It can be loose, but something like:
  • Monday-Laundry, everyone get their laundry to the laundry room, clean your room, vacuum the living room [each kid a different chore] then you can have free time.
  • Tuesday-Lunch at the park, or a nature walk day, then to the library [make sure they have their library books in a bag to take back]--maybe invite a friend
  • Wednesday-Laundry again, and cooking day. Have kids join you and teach them basic cooking, or maybe just make something fun like ice cream
  • Thursday- Shopping day, maybe take in a movie or play in the play place at a McDonalds while you drink some iced tea!
  • Friday-Tidy house and do laundry so the weekend can be relaxing. Do crafts, or maybe this could be Science Day. Lots of folks like to do some science in the summer to lessen the school work in the fall. Family movie [DVD] tonight or maybe a family game night, make popcorn and enjoy each other.
You also might want to let all the kids sleep out in the living room one night a week. You might let them have a friend sleep over once or twice in the summer.

I hope this helps make your summer fun and productive. Also, I was talking to my cousin this weekend and she mentioned that is hard to read all the Sonlight read-alouds during the school year so they save many for summer and read them daily. She said it is so much fun and takes some of the pressure off during the school year. You may want to try this, whether you homeschool or not--read your kids great books this summer, a chapter or so a day.

Please, let me know if you have suggestions to add. I would love to be able to share more ideas.

Take care,

Top: morning at the mini-park

Middle: Scotty learning to cook outdoors
Bottom: Chad and Scotty at zoo


  1. Great blog! I just, literally 5 days ago, started homeschooling with Sonlight. You have such wonderful resources listed that I will have to check out.

  2. Hi Buffy,

    I hope you can find lots of helps and encouragement. I hope Sonlight will be a good fit for your family. Let me know if I can be of service.

  3. We've used lots of these great strategies, Jill! For several years Friday night was family movie night and "camping" in the living room. We loved it!