Over the last few months as we define Productive Time and get into the habit of using our time wisely I have reinforced to my children that their time is to be spent on things that they are interested in. Not just hobbies but if they have a keen interest in learning something this is the time of the day for them to pursue that topic.
Over the years my children have pursued
- a study of Colour
- making concoctions (chemistry)
- war history
- html and blogging
- as well as a multitude of craft and art activities
By the time my children outgrew “just playing” where they would spend their afternoon playing with their lego, dolls, dressups, cubbies etc they were reading and it was easy for them to fill their days with other activities independently. But Daniel isn’t reading. So I have had to think through – how do you encourage a child to fill their time independently when they can’t read. Reading is such a core for self-learning. I know we can learn by experience, and by trial and error but in our home we tend to read a book, be inspired, follow directions, tweak and discover as we go along.
At the moment he is into Pirates. Josh is a little bemused that his brother is so into anti-heroes but I don’t think Daniel cares if they are heroes or anti-heroes he just sees adventure!
Over the last few days Daniel has –
- Shopped for a pirate costume – this was exciting because very rarely does out town have these types of things, especially not when you want them! We did a little money lesson here, as well as a big discussion on wants and needs!
- He has mended his pirate pants – cut a patch and stitched it on
- Made a parrot from a toilet roll tube
- Prepared a stencil for a pirate flag, made the flag pole (including rings for the rope to go through, he is currently ironing the flag material (cause he doesn’t like wrinkly flags)
- He has found pirate books at the library using the computer catalogue
- Made treasure for his treasure chest
- Made a treasure map, including tea dying and aging the paper.
- He asked his big brother and sister to create a treasure hunt for him by hiding the treasure, marking the map and then hiding the map.
Here are some tips for encouraging independent activity when our children don’t have independent learning skills
- Put in some prep time – find books, internet links, activities. Don’t plan a lesson, just have resources and ideas at your finger tip. Look for hands on activities, craft activities that can be done independently even though they may not think of it themselves
- Be flexible – they may well come up with all sorts of ideas themselves. Go with the flow
- Take 5 minutes a day to read a book on their topic to them. I have always been surprised how little time it really does take to read a picture book. This week Daniel and I have sat down, right where I have been working and read a few pirate and it has been so worth it.
- Be prepared to set up their activity, explain and give directions and then let them go. Expect them to clean up themselves
- Encourage stickability. The rule for our productive time is that you choose to do an activity and spend at least 15-30 minutes on it before you pack it away (the time is dependent on the child and how their attention span is developing, 30 min is our goal for all the kids). We want to avoid flipping from one activity to another – choose wisely at the beginning.
- Don’t milk it! Be guided by their interest. If they have lost interest in the subject ignore the fact that you found another 15 fantastic activities! I guess there should be a warning about not buying too much supplies in case this happens!