Tag Archives: play

“I’m Bored!” – Parents’ Guide to Beating Summer Boredom

“I’m bored” – most parents will be well acquainted with this phrase, particularly over the summer months. Summer holidays can be stressful and even more so when you feel the need to come up with more activities to entertain the kids. This article will give tips, tricks and advice for dealing with summer boredom. You can also download the full article to find out more about the science of boredom and whether it can be a good thing for children.

Dealing with boredom

It’s good to offer children the chance for unstructured play and letting them figure out what they want to do, but it can also be good to assist them from time to time. We recently asked parents on our social media for ideas of what to do to tackle children’s summer boredom:

Rainy Day/Sunny Day Boxes

Nothing is more frustrating – and boring – for a child than an otherwise perfect day to play outside being ruined by poor weather. Unfortunately, in Northern Ireland we are well aware of how an unhelpful climate can put paid to best laid plans!

A “Rainy Day/Sunny Day” box is one way to beat the weather. Additionally, it is an opportunity for you and your child to spend time being creative together. Simply sit down together, and come up with a list of ideas of what do to on a:

  • Sunny day: Play outside, make a den/fort, go for a walk or cycle
  • Rainy day: Play a board game, scavenger hunts inside, baking/cooking together

Try to come up with as long a list as possible. These don’t have to be expensive – try to make use of whatever you already have. Then, when your child is bored, take out the list that corresponds to the day and let them choose something to do together.

Geocaching

If you and your family are the outdoorsy type, you might enjoy geocaching. Geocaches are small supplies that are hidden across the world, including here in Northern Ireland. Geocachers hide them, and then mark them websites or apps for others to find. Any device that can make use of GPS – including most smart phones – can be used to locate them.

When your intrepid little explorers find a cache, there will be a small logbook. They should write their names, the time and date when they found it in the book. They may also get a kick out of reading the rest of the book. Is this a cache that is well-known? Do they recognise any of the names? Are they the first to find this one? Some caches also include little containers that have toys or trinkets to take away with you. Make sure that you bring something to replace it – perhaps a pretty stone or seashell.

Geocaching sites are scattered across Northern Ireland –and you are unlikely to be too far away from one. Some of the more populated ones are Divis/Black Mountain, Castle Ward and Florence Court in Fermanagh.

“What’s on?”

Did you know that all 11 local councils in Northern Ireland put on events for families throughout the year? Many of these events are free and most don’t even require you to buy a ticket. These events range from family fun days, free play performances, musical performances and much more.

To find these, simply search your local council area and “What’s On”. Alternatively, click the links below:

Is being bored a bad thing? 

Being bored is a natural phenomenon as it would appear that it serves no purpose. However, there is some scientific evidence to suggest may not be all bad. If you are interested in finding out more about how boredom can be good for children have a read of the full article

You can also listen to our accompanying podcast episode now on Podbean, Apple Podcasts and Spotify

It’s National Play Day!

Playday is the national day for play in the UK. The campaign is a celebration of children’s right to play and highlights the importance of play in children’s lives.

Over the summer months there is loads of opportunities for children which allows children to have fun and is important for enjoyment of childhood.

Play is also very important for children’s development, as well as you an opportunity to bond and connect with your children. Research shows that play has many benefits for children, families and the wider community, as well as improving health and quality of life. Recent research suggests that children’s access to good play provision can:

  • increase their self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-respect
  • improve and maintain their physical and mental health
  • give them the opportunity to mix with other children
  • allow them to increase their confidence through developing new skills
  • promote their imagination, independence and creativity
  • offer opportunities for children of all abilities and backgrounds to play together
  • provide opportunities for developing social skills and learning
  • build resilience through risk taking and challenge, problem solving, and dealing with new and novel situations
  • provide opportunities to learn about their environment and the wider community.

Although play is important for children of all ages it is especially meaningful and important for young children. Children don’t have to be taught how to play but you should make time to engage in it with your child, as interaction is critical for learning. Research shows that 75 percent of brain development occurs after birth. Play helps with that development by stimulating the brain through the formation of connections between nerve cells. This process helps with the development of fine and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills are actions such as being able to hold a crayon or pencil. Gross motor skills are actions such as jumping or running.

As well as helping children to develop motor skills and cognitive thinking, play is key to helping children develop social skills. Playing with children will teach them how to get along with others, communicate emotions, be creative, solve problems and introduces concepts such as sharing and kindness.

Types of Play

As your child grows and develops, play evolves. Certain types of play are associated with, but not restricted to, specific age groups.

Associative Play

When your children are around three to four years of age, they become more interested in other children than the toys. Your child has started to socialize with other children. This play is sometimes referred to as “loosely organized play.” Associative play helps your preschooler learn the do’s and don’ts of getting along with others. Associative play teaches the art of sharing, encourages language development, problem-solving skills and cooperation. In associative play, groups of children have similar goals. They do not set rules, although they all want to be playing with the same types of toys and may even trade toys. There is no formal organization.

Social Play

Children around the age of three are beginning to socialize with other children. By interacting with other children in play settings, your child learns social rules such as give and take and cooperation. Children are able to share toys and ideas. They are beginning to learn to use moral reasoning to develop a sense of values. To be prepared to function in the adult world, children need to experience a variety of social situations.

Motor – Physical Play

When children run, jump, and play games such as hide and seek and tag they engage in physical play. Physical play offers a chance for children to exercise and develop muscle strength. Physically playing with your child teaches social skills while enjoying exercise. Your child will learn to take turns and to accept winning or losing.

Constructive Play

In this type of play, children create things. Constructive play starts in infancy and becomes more complex as your child grows. This type of play starts with your baby putting things in his/her mouth to see how they feel and taste. As a toddler, children begin building with blocks, playing in sand, water and drawing. Constructive play allows children to explore objects and discover patterns to find what works and what does not work. Children gain pride when accomplishing a task during constructive play. Children who gain confidence manipulating objects become good at creating ideas and working with numbers and concepts.

Expressive Play

Some types of play help children learn to express feelings. Parents can use many different materials. Materials may include paints, crayons, coloured pencils and markers for drawing pictures or writing. It can also include such items as clay, water, and sponges to experience different textures. Beanbags, pounding benches, and rhythm instruments are other sources of toys for expressive play. You can take an active role in expressive play by using the materials alongside your child.

Fantasy Play

Children learn to try new roles and situations, experiment with languages and emotions with fantasy play. Children learn to think and create beyond their world. They assume adult roles and learn to think in abstract methods. Children stretch their imaginations and use new words and numbers to express concepts, dreams and history.

Cooperative Play

Cooperative play begins in the late preschool period. The play is organized by group goals. There is at least one leader, and children are definitely in or out of the group. When children move from a self-centred world to an understanding of the importance of social contracts and rules, they begin to play games with rules. Part of this development occurs when they learn games such as Follow the Leader, Simon Says, and team sports. Games with rules teach children the concept that life has rules that everyone must follow.