Half-term holidays are just a week away and before you know it another school year will be over. The six-week summer break will stretch before us, becoming many parents' cue to panic.
How should we keep our children occupied? Why is the summer break so long and should I start booking play schemes now? And what on earth am I going to do with them for six weeks?
Google "boredom and children" and there will be post after post detailing how to beat it, boredom busters and how to keep boredom at bay as if it was some scary monster that must never come near our children. But is letting your child get bored really that bad?As the parent of a large family I'm often amazed at the activities others lay on for their children in an effort to make sure they're happy and occupied during the holidays. Ice-skating, paint-balling and the cinema all seem to be every day events that are treats for us.
Part of the problem, and I see this in some of my children, is that they are used to being occupied. Thanks to computers, which connects them to friends without leaving the house, video games and DVDs they are used to having entertainment at the click of a button.
Over-stimulation is cited as one of the reasons children get bored nowadays. "When children are exposed to an increasing number of experiences at an early age, they become bored with routine, average activities. They require greater stimulation and excitement to keep them satisfied," says Karen Sullivan, in the book Kids Under Pressure.
Boredom can encourage imaginative play. One year my children invented a make-believe world called Rainbow Land that featured a Mr Mole. It kept them occupied, on and off, for months.
It can also encourage creativity. Many a child has devised new games, made up stories or built a village out of the contents of the recycling bin because there was nothing else to do.
When children are not handed entertainment on plate, they have to fall back on their own resources, which is not a bad skill to have. It also means they play more independently, which I think is a good thing to encourage.
In a recent article in the Telegraph, Nigel Farndale sets out the case for letting children become bored and regrets buying a Wii for his offspring: "Not only is it the rival of den-making, football-kicking and tree-climbing, it is the enemy of reading," he writes.
What do you think? Do you think it's dangerous for children to be bored or is it a good thing?
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