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Summer is here and parents everywhere live in fear of hearing the two most dreaded words in the English language: “I’m bored.” 

My daughter, Vivi, has 73 days between the last day of first grade and the start of the new school year. That doesn’t sound like much time to fill…until you break it down to 105,120 minutes of free time. If you’re lucky, there’s a weeklong family vacation in there to break up the monotony. A day camp here, vacation bible school there. That still leaves you with 95,000 minutes. 

The temptation is certainly there to schedule every moment for your children to keep them physically active, mentally stimulated, and perhaps most importantly, out of your hair. However, there is a growing movement advocating for a blank calendar.

Ask any grandparent and they will quickly tell you that their parents did not view their entertainment as a requirement of being a good parent. Instead, with a twinkle in their eyes they will tell you stories of summers spent making mud pies, catching caterpillars, and building forts. If your parents grew up in south Georgia like my mom, you might even hear about the strange practice of strawing June bugs. Don’t ask. 

If you don’t believe the old timers, maybe listen to some of the great creative minds on the subject of boredom.

Famed writer Dorothy Parker said, “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

Philosopher and author Robert Pirsig of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance fame wrote, “Boredom always precedes a period of great creativity.”

And Nobel laureate Bertrand Russell said, “A generation that cannot endure boredom will be a generation of little men, of men unduly divorced from the slow process of nature, of men in whom every vital impulse slowly withers as though they were cut flowers in a vase.”

I know, pretty heady stuff when you’re just trying to get your kids to leave you alone long enough to do a load of laundry and pay the bills. But you have to admit they have a point. If your child doesn’t learn now how to be alone with his or her thoughts and feelings, what happens years from now when they leave the nest as young adults? Learning to be alone and to work things out for themselves is an important step in their development into fully grown, functional humans. Imagine what your relationship would be like if your spouse or partner constantly looked to you for entertainment. Yikes!

Psychologists have been studying boredom for decades, and there is a growing body of work that agrees with the grandparents and great minds. Boredom is good for kids. 

A Canadian study in the 1980s revealed that children in a town without television showed greater creativity than children who watched television regularly. I would love to see a similar study today with our exponential increase in available screens and time spent starting at them. A more recent study out of Texas A&M University endorses letting children be bored. Psychologists Shane Bench and Heather Lench concluded, “[Boredom} serves to encourage people to seek new goals and experiences. Boredom provides a valuable adaptive function by signaling it is time to pursue a new goal… we propose that boredom will motivate the pursuit of new goals as the intensity of the current experience fades.” In other words, kids who are given the wonderful opportunity to be bored will find a way to fill their time on their own.

Some of the benefits of boredom are increased creativity, developing problem solving skills, becoming comfortable with being alone, exploring varied interests, and making new friends, possibly even with their siblings! 

I need to wrap this up now because I have to pick Vivi up from music camp and drop her off at a golf lesson then go shopping for new shoes for next week’s dance camp. If y’all see us at Big Kahuna’s, be sure to come over and say hi. We’ll be there approximately 2,036 minutes this summer. 

Avoid the Summer Slide

By Laura Lucy


We are smack-dab in the middle of a long, hot summer. The kids are whining about being bored, and parents are counting down until we can send our precious little angels back to school. As tempting as it is to plop the kids in front of the television until the first day of school, we need to keep their minds and bodies active to avoid the dreaded summer brain drain. Brain drain, also known as the summer slide, happens when children forget much of what they learned during the school year over the summer break.

According to the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) at Johns Hopkins University, most students lose two months of math skills over the summer. Low-income children can fall behind up to three months on reading skills. This means teachers spend the first month of school reteaching lessons, and students risk falling further and further behind each summer. Some children also gain weight over the summer without the discipline of daily school and physical education.

This information is alarming, but don’t let it ruin your summer. Combating brain drain is easier than you think. You don’t have to get a tutor or enroll your children in summer school. There are plenty of fun ways to keep their brains active until the teachers tag back in.

Lean on the Library

There is so much more to do at the library than check out books – though we do plenty of that too. We have fantastic libraries across the Emerald Coast with fun and educational activities happening almost every day throughout the summer. On a recent trip to Destin Library, my six-year-old daughter, Vivi, checked out books she can read on her own and chapter books for us to read together, played a coding game for kids, signed up to attend a Pete the Cat extravaganza, and stumbled upon a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) workshop for kids. She loved it and was even more excited when they told her she can come back next week and build a robot. I highly encourage you to check out the library closest to you.

Just Keep Swimming, Swimming, Swimming

With the Gulf, bays, bayous, lakes, pools and waterparks, we are literally surrounded by water. Learning to swim is not just fun for local kids, it’s necessary. The good news is swimming is healthy for the mind as well as the body. A study of children in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand by the Griffith Institute showed that children who started swim lessons earlier had better visual motor skills in addition to gains in language, math and writing. We kicked the summer off with a fast track class at Emerald Coast Scuba in early June. This was Vivi’s fourth summer with Coach Mary and her crew. She already swims like a fish (or mermaid if you ask her), but this summer she improved her freestyle form, learned to do the butterfly and is spending the rest of this summer practicing her dives in Mammi and Papa’s pool.  

Mini Golf = Maxi Learning

You can find a way to make any fun outing an educational experience. Take miniature golf as an example. Younger children will naturally learn deductive reasoning as they play the course – if I hit my ball in this hole versus that hole, what happens? You can be a bit more explicit with older kids, talking about the angles and physics involved in the sport. This works for billiards too. Keep it light and fun so you’re not forcing the educational component. If they realize you are trying to teach them, they might tune out. Think of it like blending green vegetables into spaghetti sauce – what they don’t know could help them.

Technology Isn’t Evil

The kids likely want to spend every waking moment with a screen in their faces. Zoning out to endless YouTube videos isn’t the only way to utilize these devices. There are plenty of educational apps out there, both free and pay. ABCmouse is a fun learning app for pre-school and elementary school children. Even video games aren’t all bad. Playing games can teach kids how to be good winners and losers, problem-solving skills and creativity. Chances are they are better at the games than you are. Let them teach you how to play the game and explain how it works. This is a great brain-building exercise for them and a wonderful way to improve the parent-child bond.

Our favorite discovery this summer is the Art for Kids Hub channel on YouTube. This channel has more than 1,200 videos with easy step-by-step instructions on how to draw everything from animals and ice cream to Hatchimals and LOL Dolls. Trust me, your kids will sit peacefully for large chunks of time while following along with these videos. You will be shocked by how quickly they will create some pretty awesome drawings while using both sides of their brains.


The most important thing to remember is that schools give kids a summer break for a reason. They need time to rest, relax and recharge. Let them have that time without stress, without pushing them too hard. I hope these tips will help you find sneaky fun ways to incorporate learning into your summer fun. Vivi and I will see you at Big Kahuna’s. We’ll be the ones talking about velocity as we fly down the Tiki River Run.