By Laura Reagan-Porras
First, we hear, “I can’t wait for spring break!” “I’m so sick and tired of school.” We may even have fun stay-cation activities planned or perhaps we have planned a daytime get away to the zoo or local amusement park for spring break. If you have the budget, you may have planned a dream vacation escape for all. Or maybe you are a traditionalist and plan to involve the whole family in spring cleaning. Regardless of how much rest, relaxation and organized fun you are prepared to have, you may eventually hear, “Mom, I’m bored.” “Dad, let’s do something.”
Perhaps your structured spring break plan can yield to a more, free flowing, child-driven time by creating the space and expectation that children can create their own meaningful spring break. With a little encouragement, kids may come up with their own imaginative ideas for fun away from the television sets, computers, Xboxes and other electronic games. Most importantly, children will feel empowered by meeting their own needs. Kids may simply need a parent to start or guide the discussion. Here are a few ideas.
1. Children can “re-decorate” their rooms with a springtime theme including new homemade posters. The poster can highlight their hobbies and interests. All it takes is a trip to the store for poster board, markers, paints and more. You may encourage them to cut out pictures of their favorite topic from old magazines and newspapers to make a theme collage.
2. Kids can plan and prepare a family picnic in a nearby park if weather permits. The planning will involve the meal and activities. They can make the grocery list and do the shopping for the picnic themselves. The shopping may also involve some budgeting which is a great applied math lesson.
3. Kids can plan and plant a spring garden!
Children can also find meaning in spring volunteerism. Springtime service learning can build character in children. Volunteering as a family can create lasting memories. Teaching service is most effective when children give something meaningful to them. Some service ideas are the following.
4. Kids can hold a stuffed animal drive for abused children in shelters. Children can be encouraged to give a stuffed animal of their own that is in good shape or earn the money by doing household chores to make a purchase themselves. Children can also travel to the shelter to drop off the stuffed animals so that the “giving” is concrete.
5. Collect new or like new books for the children’s wing of the hospital. To make the service personally impactful, children can deliver the books to the hospital to distribute. Take the wagon and go door to door with a parent along for support and ask the neighbors if they would like to donate gently used books to the hospital.
6. Older children can write letters thanking soldiers for their service. These lists are meant to serve as suggestions only. You and your children will have many more ideas for creative or service learning. There is literally no end to the fun and meaning you and your children can enjoy this holiday.
Laura Reagan-Porras is a parenting journalist and child advocate. She is the mother of two daughters.