Teaching Stress-Reduction & Time Management Skills
How do you keep your kids entertained in the last days of summer? Most kids are back from summer camps, and some schools start earlier than others, leaving lots of kids without their summer buddies or structured activities. By now, parents are tired of hearing, “I’m bored! I’ve got nothing to doooo!”
If this sounds like your home, remember that it won’t be long before your kids are running to you for help with last-minute projects, from Halloween costumes and holiday gifts to science fair projects.
We’ve got some tips to motivate your kids to think ahead, plan their time keep them entertained and out of your hair for the duration of the summer doldrums!
Challenge your kids to learn new crafts
Are your kids fans of YouTube? Teach them to use internet videos as a skill-building resource, where they can learn useful crafts. Knitting, crocheting, felting and drop-spindle hand spinning are popular once again. For boys who are hesitant to learn “girly” crafts, this is a great opportunity for a brief history lesson. Did you know that in Medieval times, only men were allowed to knit? In the second World War, soldiers knit to keep calm while recovering from injuries. Many needle and fiber arts activities share the same stress-reducing qualities as coloring, which (as we all know) has jumped the grade-school demographic to become a huge hit with teen and adults.
If your kids are still on the fence, suggest parachute cord (paracord) weaving crafts.
Try and select activities that don’t require a huge investment at the outset, are portable, and don’t take up too much space. If your kid decides to take up fly tying, you’ll eventually want to set up a permanent workbench and be prepared to set up a sewing and craft room if things really catch on with your family, but having an activity that a kid can pursue “on the go” can be a huge when your family travels together, or when one sibling is forced to endure another one of her sister’s long soccer matches.
As your kids improve their skills or branch out into related passions, encourage them to custom-craft projects to give as gifts this holiday season, or for upcoming birthdays. Remind them that the best gifts are those that are thoughtful, rather than expensive, so a carefully-crocheted hat or scarf in the giftee’s favorite colors is sometimes more cherished than a gift card from the nearest big-box store.
Get them started on the best Halloween costumes ever
Are your kids big on Halloween? Encourage them to decide now how they want to dress up in October, and help them design and plan their costume creation. Summer blockbuster superheroes, historical figures, family tree research, favorite book characters or appropriate pop culture icons might be among your kids’ inspiration.
Help your kid plan her costume examining the steps and timeline for completing it:
- Does the costume require sewing? Is she willing to learn how to sew?
- Does your kid express an interest in leather work or molded plastic crafts?
- Will your kid need to purchase some parts of the costume? Where will she look for it, and how will she pay for it?
Work out a step-by-step plan that will teach your kids to break large projects into smaller tasks, with deadlines for each step.
Don’t let Halloween be the only reward for a job well done. Comic conventions in your area are great places to show off a well-made costume, with kids and adults alike participating in “cosplay” by dressing as their favorite characters, whether inspired by fiction or history.
If your kids’ interest flags in the middle of the project, remind them of past Halloweens when poor planning resulted in disappointing costumes. And remind yourself that by guiding them through long-term projects broken into bite-sized tasks helps to teach your child to avoid the stress of procrastination.
Plan ahead for school-year study time
When do your kids usually set aside time for homework during the school year? Do your best to match the same routine for your end-of-summer projects. This is a good time to pay attention to the environment in which your kid stays most engaged. Does he like to listen to music while creating with his hands? Does she like to paint or draw on the edge of your household’s activity, or quietly in her room? What worked for your kids last year might not work for them as they mature, so be ready to help them adjust to their individual study habits.
Encourage your kids to get in the habit of keeping a calendar for project and task deadlines. This translates well to good study habits, increasing student self-confidence and reducing the stress and anxiety of kids and parents alike. Going to bed at a reasonable time and having a good night’s sleep can’t hurt either since they will be getting up early for school very soon.
The dwindling days of summer don’t have to mean headaches for you if your kids are engaged in activities they can pursue with little supervision or direction. With a bit of creativity, the skills and habits your kids learn now can help keep them self-directed throughout the school year, and better equipped to manage their time.