The Blog

As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

Preparing for Summer

Some parents survived this harsh winter when their  children

were confined to the house better than others.  The wise  parents

were  those  who were prepared.  The same preparation  will  help

with  the  long summer months about to  come.   This  preparation

involves  providing  opportunities for children  to  be  creative

rather  than relying on nintendo and television to fill the  long

There are many ways to do this and the following are just  a

few suggestions.  Create a “dignified junk” box.  This is a  very

big  cardboard box in which you put things you  might  ordinarily

throw away but save because they have the “potential” to be  used

as  something else or made into something wonderful.  That  would

include,  among millions of other possibilities, string,  ribbon,

colorful  wrapping paper, rubber bands, egg boxes, tissue  paper,

toilet  paper  rolls,  pieces of toys  that  fell  apart,  broken

jewelry,  left-handed  glove,  pieces of  material,  old  picture

books,  greeting cards, catalogues, boxes and on and  on.    When

you  start  doing this, you may never again throw  anything  away

because  you get caught up with its potential.   When  the  winds

blow,  or it gets too hot or miserable to be outdoors,  take  out

the  box and add scissors, paste, scotch tape, needle and  thread

and  whatever  else creative children need and  let  them  create

wonderful things to their hearts content.

Starting  a scrapbook is also fun.  This requires  that  you

save old magazines and newspapers in preparation.  A young  child

can  make a book of all the things that start with the  different

letters of the alphabet.  If a child has a hobby, like collecting

airplanes, she could cut out all of the stories about  airplanes.

If  she likes sports, she could cut out pictures of her  favorite


It  helps  to  encourage your children  to  start  a  hobby.

Children  can spend many happy hours pursuing it.   Hobbies  like

collecting stamps, baseball cards, coins, and on and on require a

great deal of time.  Sometimes the only time the children have to

pursue   a   hobby  is  when  they  are  forced   by   unforeseen

circumstances  to stay in the house.  If you are ready  with  the

suggestion and the materials, they might become interested, enjoy

themselves and learn a great deal at the same time.

If  you  have  a camcorder, you  might  suggest  that  older

children  write a script, dress the part, act in, and film  their

own  movie.   In  anticipation of this activity,  you  might  get

another cardboard box in which to throw old clothes

It is a good idea to stockpile materials for cooking.  These

would include but not be limited to cake mixes, pie  ingredients.

cookie mixes, jello, puddings and so on.  The children could help

prepare  a meal.  Other materials you might want to have on  hand

are  puzzles,  clay, crayons, and magic markers.  Do  not  forget

board games, legos, blocks and cards.

If  you are given enough warning that the children  will  be

confined to the house for a period of time, go to the library  as

quickly  as possible and get out as many books as are  permitted.

When  you  choose books for children’s pleasure  reading,  choose

those which are at least a year below their current reading level

at school.  For younger children, choose those with no writing or

only  one  word per page.  Provide a comfortable  atmosphere  for

reading.   There should be comfortable chairs with good  lighting

available.   We  tend to make the most comfortable room  the  one

that  has  the  television in it.  Close up  the  television  and

declare  that room off limits.  Instead provide  the  atmosphere,

the  opportunity and the encouragement for your children to  make

creative  choices.   If done right, you and your  children  might

even  begin  to  look  forward to  these  periods  of  unforeseen


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