Many parents are happy to let their kids go off and play all day while they get on with all of the chores and other things that make up our busy lives these days: work, shopping, laundry, cleaning the house, gardening, taking the car for a service, popping down to the dry cleaners, and much, much more. We have so much to occupy our time that it seems there simply aren’t enough hours in the day – let alone days in the week.
However, as parents we should not lose sight of the fact that our little ones need stimulus and education if they are to grow up as respectable and worthy members of society, and it is no use leaving that entirely to the educational professionals. Other considerations aside, we may not entirely agree with the curriculum set down at their schools, and wish to add other elements to their lives in order to give them as broad an education as possible.
Set Specific Projects
Rather than let the kids run off and play when they have done their homework, or at weekends when they have more free time, one of the best ways to broaden their outlook is to set specific projects for them to carry out. The best projects will be both entertaining and educational at the same time. The entertainment will ensure that they enjoy and look forward to the projects that you come up with, while the education will give them understanding of things in the wider world.
Of course, we are not suggesting that all of their spare time should be taken up with projects – they are certainly entitled to fun and games with their friends – but as a responsible parent you should set them specific projects which take an hour or two here and there, or if a longer term project perhaps an hour or two at weekends every week until the project is completed.
What sort of projects can you set? The answer to that is anything that you can imagine. Certainly, you need to put some thought into a project before requiring the kids to commence it, but bear in mind another benefit: you get some free time while they are carrying out the project!
Many parents will set projects that center around their own interests. For example, if you are a gardener you may well let your kids have a small bed in the yard, and encourage them to grow their own plants. These could be food plants – simple things to begin with, such as radish (which grow very quickly) lettuce, squash, and more – so that they can see rapid results. They could also grow some flowers for you. Gardening is actually a fascinating hobby, because no matter how many years you have been engaged in it, you will never, ever, know it all. There is always something new to learn.
Perhaps you are artistically inclined. You could teach the kids some basic drawing techniques, and then set them a project to come up with a painting or drawing on a particular subject or perhaps one that they dream up out of their own imagination. This teaches them a skill, and at the same time lets them use their own ideas.
Maybe dad likes to go fly fishing for trout or salmon. Why not teach the kids how to tie different sorts of flies, and then get them to design one for you to use when you go off with your buddies at the weekend? Imagine their delight when you come home with a big fish that you have caught on a fly that they designed and made!
What about photography? Almost every kid these days has a smartphone with a camera. Rather than just snapping away at other kids, or the cat doing silly things in the kitchen, why not teach them how to create a shot that is artistic and has some meaning, and then encourage them to go off for an hour or two and come back with even just one shot that is worth printing? (You can always print off the best one: even if it is not that good, they will soon get the idea).
There are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of different projects that you can get your kids to embark upon. Certainly, it will take a bit of imagination on your part, but the result will be kids who have a wider understanding of the world, and may well find something that will become of absorbing interest for the rest of their lives.