Blog - 01 October 2021
The COVID pandemic has caused some kids to act like bears and to go into hibernation.
Some have given up on their usual activities, some have retreated from life into the world of screens and others have spent more time alone. Inspiration has lessened, interests have narrowed, and motivation has reduced.
Of course, all of this is understandable. It has been a scary time. Even so, it is time to change gears and inspire motivation for kids. Just as bears rise after a period of hibernation, it is time to help our children to get out and enjoy the world.
There is a lot that parents can do to help their children reignite their motivation. Understand that fears, worries and anxiety all dampen down motivation for kids. The first thing parents can do is to be the antidote to fears. Create a supportive family atmosphere of boldness, fun and exploration. This is not about pep talks or bustling your children out into the world or even accusing them of being disinterested or lazy. It is about parents becoming more adventurous themselves and helping their children to develop a broader range of interests and an increased sense of boldness.
When you can, take your children on explorations of the local area. Outdoor activities all kids to explore different parts of the local surroundings. Search for odd objects, find ten differently shaped leaves, map the area or have a family photography trip. Look for different types of homes or gardens. Try and cheer five people up by greeting them with a big ‘hello’. See if you can discover a secret passage or the shortest way to get from one place to another.
Mix it up. During the past few months, life has become a bit routine and humdrum for many of us. There has been a fun deficit in many of our lives. Have a week of doing things differently. You could go for a hike instead of the park. Here are some other examples, including weekend activities for kids:
‘Mad Monday’ - come up with strange inventions and ideas. ‘Tasty Tuesday’ - make wild breakfasts and post them. ‘Wild Wednesdays’ – five things we wouldn’t normally do. ‘Taco Thursdays’ - go on a picnic and eat tacos. ‘Fantastic Fridays’ – find and study interesting animals and insects in your area. ‘Slinky Saturdays’ dress up and act out roles. Play games like Twister and charades. ‘Speedy Sunday’ - have an hour to do everything at twice the speed you normally would do it.
Travel the world to broaden your child’s knowledge. Have each family member pick out somewhere in the world they would like to go one day. Find a YouTube clip about the place, a piece of music from the region and a cultural custom distinctive to that part of the world. Then research a favourite food from the region and try to cook it.
Have a games day (or week) filled with inside activities for kids. Play card games. Compete jigsaws, Lego, Monopoly, charades, checkers, Trivial Pursuit, try to develop a Rube Goldberg contraption. Get out the straws, icy pole sticks, band aids, pipe cleaners and create the highest tower that can stand independently. Use newspapers strips and some glue and make moody puppets. Paint or decorate them, name them, dress them and then create a puppet show.
Develop a challenge course or trail using local materials (old tins, planks, cardboard boxes.) Hunt around the area for things you can use. Then have time trials of getting through the course. Dismantle the challenge course when you’ve finished and construct a ‘junk’ sculpture. Each family member gets a chance to sit in a director’s chair and to design and instruct the rest of the family as they construct the sculpture to the ‘director’s’ requirements. The ‘director’ can only instruct (builds communication skills) and cannot touch any of the pieces of junk. Do one sculpture each day and photograph it before handing the design over to the next ‘director.’
Collect jokes, funny stories, clips and pictures and develop your own comedy festival. Have a competition for who can discover the lamest joke. See if you can defeat my current favourite lamest joke - Q: Two beans were on their way to Townsville. Guess what happened to them? A: They ended up in Cairns (cans).
Some of the best learning happens at home with the people you love. Make the most of this time by enriching our time and connection with one another by increasing the amount of fun. When we combine fun, learning and trying new things, children’s motivation naturally increases. Give it a go (oh, and if you can, share with us some of your ideas).
Camp Australia is there to support children and families during the COVID-19 period. For more information, please visit https://campaustralia.com.au/your-oshc.
Andrew is an Hon. Fellow at the University of Melbourne and has been a scientific consultant for the ABC. He is an ambassador for Adolescent Success and the Lion’s Wellbeing.
He has also been a principal consultant to the Dept. Education START, resilience and Bully Stoppers initiatives and the national drug prevention strategy REDI and is a regular presenter on Radio National.
Andrew’s research on learning strengths takes the research on resilience and positive education back into the classroom where it can make the most difference.
His most recent books include ‘The A to Z of Feelings’, ‘Tricky Behaviours’, 'Your Best Life at Any Age' and 'Neuro-developmental Differentiation- Optimising Brain Systems to Maximise Learning'.