Are you a brave parent? Are you willing to allow your child to take risks? Academically? Physically? Emotionally?

Do you manage your child’s time? Is your child allowed to be bored?

I have always believed that children need time to be creative so they need to be bored sometimes. I remember my parents also allowed me to be bored. I can remember complaining I was bored and my dad saying “Well what are you going to do about that?” I have said the same to my children.

My children have grown up with screens but they still read books and drew and played with all kinds of toys. They were encouraged to solve problems for themselves. Often it was because as a single mum I was doing something else. It was also a conscious decision for them to be self-reliant. If their shirt got stuck as they were getting dressed or undressed they were encouraged to try to resolve it themselves. If they couldn’t find something, i left them longer to give them a chance to do more than the superficial look.

I am currently tutoring at a local academy, mostly in English and Math. Most of the students don’t need a tutor. They are actually quite academically capable. Some need someone to try out ideas on. Some need a different perspective to complete a task. Some need gaps filled at the point they need the information. When I talk to these children, most do not have a day off from activities so when they do have time, they resort to screens to keep themselves amused. Fortunately the students I am working with are all upper primary or higher. Most of them have no idea HOW they learn and are always surprised when I share with them a way to make things easier for themselves – something that fits their learning style. Sometimes I am talking about strategies for completing a test or how a test is structured. Sometimes I am helping them make notes about new information – notes that are in language they understand.

I hear stories all the time of 4-5 year olds being told they need tutoring because “they are behind”. It is often to do with reading readiness – they are not ready to read! This is a range: anywhere from 4 through to 9 years old!  I often get asked how can _______ improve their writing/spelling/grammar? Read more!

Help your child by reading to them. A picture book, a chapter book, an article from a magazine or paper. ANYTHING! This will encourage them to read for pleasure and this will improve their ability with language. I remember my children would ask for the same book every night. Boring for me but it wasn’t about me at all. Every time I read that book I made it as interesting as I could until the kids were reciting the words with me. Then I would track the words with my finger as I read. They would recite the words at first but eventually the girls could read me the story.

Another way to help your kids: when they draw a picture, turn it into a reading experience. Write the story they tell you under the picture, in their words, correctly spelt and correct grammar. Read it back to them. Point at every word as you read. It could be in a book or you could staple the pages together and make a book. This is the first part of Language Experience Learning. (There are more steps.)

When you go shopping hand the children the list. If they don’t know the word, read it to them. Get them to match it with an item they can see on the shelf. Often they will know what the item looks like even if they can’t read the word yet. It makes shopping slower but also an educational experience. My kids (24 and 22) still remember this as part of their reading learning.

Please allow your children to be creative. Give them time to do nothing, daydream, be bored. Try not to solve everything for them. Encourage them to find alternative ways of doing things. Some things can not be done any other way, but when it doesn’t matter – let it go!

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