Even the most artistic of children will want to put down their paintbrush sometime.
Offer them a prompt (or a choice of prompts) to write a story.
This could develop in several ways.
For instance, when everyone’s applauded the story, suggest a ‘What If’ related to it. . . (What if the cat got shut in a delivery van and driven away? What if it rained that night and washed away the clues? What if aliens landed in the school playground?)
They may have What Ifs of their own.
If writing is unpopular, make it a picture story.
If your child has come up with an unexpectedly brief story outline, could they develop it by expanding each sentence into a paragraph?
This was the basis of a creative writing lesson in a class where I spent a teaching practice. One previously science-oriented eleven-year-old came back with a manuscript worthy of a practiced storyteller. (Hang on to that initial outline, by the way. It’s much harder to reduce a completed story to a synopsis for an agent. Think big!)
Make a book of it, illustrated with drawings, paintings or photographs.
If there are no crowd scenes, they could turn it into a play to act out to the family. For an only child, how about hand puppets? finger puppets? (Go on. . . join in yourself, why don’t you?) Polish it up for relatives when self-isolation ends.
Don’t be afraid of boredom.
Children today aren’t allowed to be bored. Toys, games, films are provided to amuse them. The concept of Quality Time, born of parental guilt, has led to generations unable to amuse themselves.
In the fifties, us kids spent hours bored stiff while unable to escape to our own devices: school assemblies, church sermons. . . On long car or train journeys, we were expected to find our own ways to occupy our minds. (We read a lot.)
I suspect that children who learn early how to deal with boredom are less likely to amuse themselves as teenagers by spraying graffiti and setting fires.
As adults too, it’s easy to lose the knack of amusing ourselves with a plethora of media vying for our attention.
Walking the dogs before work used to be my off-duty thinking time. My thoughts could roam, ideas would spark and solutions present themselves. Since retirement, dog walks include someone else and involve conversation. The walks are getting shorter too now the old girl’s stiffened up. (The dog has arthritis as well.)
There aren’t enough hours in my day to get bored… but perhaps I should be making time for boredom. With every hour accounted for, my imagination has no free time to come up with story ideas.
What do your children think about when they’re bored? Ask them.
What bores them? When are they bored?