Is it just me, or are kids overly programmed these days? Sometimes I feel like between our own schedules and our kids’ activities, it’s impossible to coordinate get-togethers, even on the weekends. That to me is sad. My own children have days that are programmed with school, homework, various sports and occasional play dates. Yet when I think back, I really don’t remember having quite as many activities in my own childhood so I err on the side of also leaving time for them to be “bored”, forcing them to figure out how to entertain themselves on their own. AND I still believe in allowing for random adventures because I secretly think that’s where the real magic happens in life.
Yet, that being said, there are days when I think that my kids should be could really be doing just a little. bit. more. It’s usually when they’re flailing around on the floor wrestling each other, which quickly escalates from giggling to wailing. Or when my little scientists concoct potions in my kitchen that include half of my good liquid soap and my sacred lemon ginger shots. (Insert eye-roll emojis) I grapple with celebrating childhood and allowing my kids to discover the joy of learning yet also wanting them to push themselves a little further to be the best they can be. It’s a delicate balance.
So one day, after an intense round of Nerf gun battles while they were gulping down water in the kitchen, I offered some suggestions as to how they could be using their time more productively. And perhaps even challenging themselves by doing things like reviewing flashcards, reading books in Spanish, practicing multiplication tables – I mean, there are apps for that, right? LOL. But these ideas were met with moans and groans as they scampered off. It was in that moment that I realized I was going about it the wrong way. Kids like to have fun, and they learn best through play. So I channeled my creative childlike energy into finding ways to help them learn in more exciting ways that may not even seem like learning. Wink wink.
I suddenly knew exactly what to do. I drove to Michael’s craft store where I discovered a countertop chalkboard/dry erase board. It was the best $5 I ever spent and an incredible tool that I now use everyday. I propped it up on the counter and wrote vocabulary words for my older child and sight words for my younger one. When they saw the board, to my delight, I discovered that they didn’t roll their eyes and ignore it, but instead they looked at it with intrigue and attempted to decode and come up with solutions. They saw it as a challenge and rose to the occasion. They blurted out the answers and looked very pleased with themselves. The next morning, they checked the board for the next round. I changed it up and wrote words in Spanish. Sometimes I write inspirational messages or greetings, math equations or grocery lists. They key is to change it up so it doesn’t get old.
I realized that I didn’t need to add more activities or announce my grand plan, I just needed to be creative about how I went about it. Kind of like getting your kids to eat more veggies by chopping them up and hiding then in a frittata.
Voilà – inspiration for my next blog!