From The Director’s Chair: The School Ager’s Lament
Julia @ Kids Matter
How many times do you hear in a day from anyone under the age of 13, “I’M BORED!”? I can tell you when I was an educator and had the luck of working with school agers, I heard it frequently.
So what do you do with those, ‘getting too old to go to a baby daycare’, school age children who are just too cool for school? First, before we get into activities, we have to think about why older kids are so much harder to please and keep entertained.
Kids now are very technologically advanced. Between TV, gaming systems, computers, cell phones, and tablets your child is entertained 24/7. Kids are also way over scheduled. They have dance, T-ball, fall ball, soccer, karate, swimming, basketball, scouts, etc. That crazy list could be in just one household and between only two kids! And, summer, albeit the best time of the year for kids, is actually the most challenging time for them! The reason for this is because kids crave structure. Structure is what they face for ten months out of the year while in school, whereas, while on summer vacation, structure takes a back seat.
So, now that we have our reasons for our moody adolescence, let’s try and figure out ways that we, as early educators, can keep them entertained and structured over the summer break. A good tool is getting ahead of the game before these school agers even get out of school in the spring. Newspapers and local parenting magazines run summer activity bulletins in their publications in the month leading up to summer. These are a treasure trove of ideas and potential field trips!
Most schools, however, cannot afford to send school agers on field trips every day. If this is the case with your school, work your budget rigidly in the winter months so that you can plan some really knock out trips when you do get to go in the summer. Some examples of these would be: movies, bowling, a local sporting event, mini golf, laser tag, roller skating, a kid’s themed pizza place, etc. All of these and more could have your school agers jumping with excitement. But is it enough? The answer is no, not even close!
While they are on the trip they will have the best time ever, but as they ride back to your center that feeling of boredom and dread starts creeping in. Sounds silly, right? But let’s think about this and try to understand why that isn’t enough. I’m going to give you a scenario that I think you, as an adult, may identify with.
Sunday Morning: Sleep in. Awaken. Let out dog. Feed dog and cats. Make coffee. Drink coffee while curled up in comfy window chair with book/newspaper. Enjoy silence. Significant other/children awaken. Breakfast/Brunch. Go to movies. Call Mother, because you are overdue and can’t put it off any longer. Stop at mall. Buy shoes. Go home. Make a lovely Sunday dinner. Curl up with loved ones and watch The Walking Dead. Hit pause. DO LAUNDRY! And BAM! It hits you, hits you strait in the heart, better than Daryl Dixon can strike a zombie with an arrow. Tomorrow is Monday. Grrrr Monday. BOO Monday! And just like that, your beautiful Sunday is shattered!
Now, THAT is how a school ager feels every time they return from a field trip. So, what do you do now? The answer is once again structure. Kids need it, want it, and function better when they have it! So, here is a list of activities they can work on, in the center, to keep their minds busy and creative between those field trips:
Class Newspaper/Blog! Have them create their own ideas, interview, write, and edit on paper or computer! The possibilities are endless. Set it up so they have a voice to write about and critique what they do, where they go, what they eat, see, etc. Summer journals are also a way to get them writing about their summer adventures.
Politics! Have them elect class officers. Work on campaigns, speeches, budgets, and everything in between. Create a congress out of the rest of your class; have them work on issues that children can help control in their communities like recycling, donations for local food banks, and child safety initiatives.
Talent Show! Have them work on acts for a talent show to close the summer. Invite parents and charge minimally for concessions to raise money for something their classroom needs, or maybe a really AWESOME field trip to end the summer! If some don’t want to be on stage, have them work on backstage things like costumes and props, concessions, or program design.
Well, that is about it from the Director’s Chair! Until next time… Keep those kids busy!!!