Q: All I get from my 10-year-old is, “Dad, I’m bored…”. I feel like I have to entertain my kid or at least give her something productive to do while I’m working from home. Any ideas for a 10U aspiring professional women's player?
A: With the whole world cooped up at home, I’m sure that more than just a few parents are faced with this same question. USA Hockey certainly has some suggestions for various activities kids can do around developing their hockey techniques on our website, but I do think that this time/freedom element of being stuck at home lends itself to the players being creative and taking ownership of their learning.
Having a bit of boredom just may force kids to be more creative. With an over-scheduled world and kids moving from one pre-programed activity to another, we are in some ways depriving them the opportunity to develop more autonomy, self-reliance and creativity. Instead of jumping in with our suggestions, an alternate approach is to allow them the space to just figure it out (without the default setting of just more screen time). Keep in mind that kids are looking for answers and looking for the solution to be given to them because that’s often all that we ever do for them. Go here, do this, when you get there, do this, then do that. Learning to be creative is a skill just like anything else that theoretically develops naturally during childhood. However, over the generations, everything in our lives is scheduled, scripted and choreographed so we can’t be frustrated with our kids that they don’t know how to be creative or come up with ideas to entertain themselves.
This is an opportunity to allow them to work on their ability to be creative. However, because this is new, providing a little structure especially at first may be helpful. For instance, setting aside a time where you learn one new skill that you didn’t have before all of this started. Maybe that is something like learning to juggle three balls, juggle a ball or hacky sack with both feet or even how to hit a tennis ball off the wall with your non-dominate hand.
Maybe as parents if we provide a bit of structure that says okay, you get to work on one or two skills, you practice them all week and then you get to show us what you’ve learned at the end of the week, almost like a talent show. Then you can talk about the importance of the learning process and how it’s not realistic that you’re going to master a skill in a week but maybe it turns into a game where you take a video of them trying to juggle three balls at the beginning of the week and then a video of them at the end of the week and find any bit of progress to provide some affirmation over. Then, when you’re out of lock down you have a video compilation of the variety of skills you tried to master. I think if they can see improvement, they may want to continue to practice and maybe that one hour becomes an hour and a half where they are working on one or two skills in a day and so on. They don’t have to be physical skills, have them draw pictures or list all the places they want to visit in the world and why? Engage your kids to be creative and support their interests.
The author, Ken Martel, coached collegiately at Air Force and Michigan Tech while also helping guide numerous U.S. National Teams. As a player, he skated four seasons at Lake Superior State, winning an NCAA championship in 1988.
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