Kids on the Brink of Summer: How to Make it Happily Productive

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Synopsis

Summer—what lies ahead for your kids? Play? Relaxation? Packed schedules? Boredom? Here are 2 directional leads and 6 action-oriented tactics to consider when kids ask, “What am I supposed to do?”

When kids transition from lots of school-based commitments to the promise of summer, changes occur. For example, established routines and schedules are often deconstructed—or reconstructed. Families engage in different activities, and friends do, too. There also tends to be more free time. And, therefore, time to get bored…

“What am I supposed to do?” is a question that many kids ask at the outset of summer—and again during the weeks that follow.

On the one hand, when children are bored and feeling lackadaisical, they’re actually positioned to find new opportunities for learning and excitement. A state of quiet and stillness can be beneficial, and ultimately become a wellspring for motivation and creativity. On the other hand, when kids take an ambitious approach, and they’re keen to tackle challenges and think carefully and constructively about their day-to-day pursuits, they’re primed to have interesting, stimulating, and pleasurable experiences. Either way, when school and extra-curricular programs draw to a close and calendars become less full, it’s good to be planful. Leisure and quiet times are fruitful, but there is endless wonder in playful discovery and experiential learning.

Here are some directional and action-oriented considerations that parents can share, and kids can ponder.  

DIRECTION  -  “What am I supposed to do?” is a broad-based query. It may be delivered by children or teens in various ways—with doses of exasperation, curiosity, or tedium; and in assorted tones of voice—accusatory, anticipatory, or possibly whining. However, the question can be re-purposed productively! How? By breaking it down into two targeted questions that will allow kids to concentrate more specifically on their capabilities, and adopt a focused approach on any given day.

1. What do I want to do now? – What really interests me? For example, maybe I could try origami, go geo-caching, read a different genre of book, bake, sculpt, build a tree house, or learn to play a musical instrument.
2. What makes sense? – That is, what’s reasonable and doable?

Thinking about these two simple questions can give children and teens some basic direction for becoming happily productive. But, direction is not enough…

TAKING ACTION  -  When kids ask, “What am I supposed to do?”  taking action is just as important as acquiring direction. Here are six action-oriented thoughts that can help fuel the engine of productivity:

1. I’ll seize upon and appreciate what’s important for today. – I’m going to focus on what matters to me, such as a task or activity that will make me happy and proud, or enable me to learn something different, or benefit others at home, or make a positive contribution within my community.
2. I’ll think ahead. – I’ll take time to anticipate, and to visualize what I’d like to accomplish. I’ll picture my success! I’ll believe in myself.
3. I’ll create a step-by-step plan. – Once I know what I want to achieve, I’ll determine exactly what I have to do in order to get it done, from beginning to end. And, if it takes a while for me to figure this out, and even longer to do what I intend to do, that’s okay. I’ll take charge, and commit to having a “ready, set, go” mindset.
4. I’ll make the necessary preparations. – Do I need resources such as sporting equipment, art supplies, how-to guides, or contact information for people or places?
5. I’ll include downtime, breaks, or play activities in my day’s plan. – I know I’ll need time for rest, exercise, discovery, and recreation. That will help me think clearly, feel energized, and be more creative.
6. I’ll get help if I need it. – I’ll connect with other people for assistance, support, or encouragement, especially if things become difficult. I can ask questions, join forces, and surmount challenges.

By thinking these kinds of thoughts, kids can anticipate how their day will likely unfold, strategize, and feel in control of what transpires. They can monitor and adapt their activities, and enjoy them as fully as possible. These six pointers can lead to happy productivity, empowering kids to be the best they can be, and to make the most of  time at their disposal throughout the summer months and beyond.

Additional Reading and Resources:

Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids by Dona Matthews and Joanne Foster, House of Anansi Press, 2014.  

Not Now, Maybe Later: Helping Children Overcome Procrastination by Joanne Foster, Great Potential Press, 2015. 

Kids Now Program – focusing on helping kids develop skills such as self-confidence, resilience, and striving to be kind to oneself.

Brainpower Program – focusing on helping kids maximize intelligence and creativity, and strengthen capacities for personal growth. 

Tomorrow’s Change Makers by Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Eagle Harbor, 2015 

The Happiness Code: Ten Keys to Being the Best You Can Be by Domonique Bertolucci, Rizzoli, 2012.

School Winds Down, Change Ramps Up: Tips to Help Kids Adjust posted online at The Creativity Post.

Tags: creativity, education, joanne foster, psychology

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