Engaging Your Pre-Teen and Teenager Over Spring Break

Thom DickFeatured2 Comments

(Re-posted from Spring Break 2018… because, let’s be honest, we could all use a refresher.)

Spring Break is upon us!

I would wager a guess that, for some parents, spring break elicits feelings from when you were young and anticipated a week of sleeping in, movies, and video games. I would also wager a guess that the feeling of excitement is immediately followed by a sick thud as you realize it’s your kids who are slacking off and lazing around now. According to some, slacking off and lazing around is the very definition of the teenager; and perhaps that is partly true.

But spring break can be so much more than that! You are being handed a brilliant gift of time with your kids. Here are some suggestions of how to maximize your time with your pre-teen and teenager.

ONE: Let Them Sleep In.

Come on, just let it go. Many kids actually do work hard at school and are stressed out by friends and all the stuff of their social world. Let them have the one sleep-til-noon day and then tell them you’ll probably want them out of bed by a reasonable hour for the rest of the week.

You will gain a bit of street cred with your kids if you are open to the idea of moving their curfew a bit later and letting them wake up a bit later as a result. It worth it.

TWO: Do Stuff With Them (shocker.)

If you need to motivate your sloth-ager to vacate slumberland, perhaps give them a reason to get up!

Take them to a matinee movie (my preferred time to watch movies because the theatre is empty.) Take them to a play (a little culture never hurt anyone.) Take them to a museum. Take them for burgers.

And if you really want to engage them, offer to bring a friend or two along.

Or start one of those takes-forever games that you never actually finish like Monopoly or Risk. If you are looking for something a bit nouveau why not try one off this list. (Disclaimer: These games may be awful, even carnal, I have no idea because I haven’t played them. So be the discerning parent I know you are.)

Game Suggestions:

If you just want some suggestions for some great games here is a list of my current favourite family games.

  1. Big Boss Little Boss. For some reason it has made a comeback with my kids. It is played with regular playing cards. A version of the rules is here.
  2. 7 Wonders. I love it. Get the expansions too – oh and the app; it makes score keeping much easier.
  3. Dominion. Another great game we bought for our family Christmas game this year.
  4. Small World. I play it on my iPad with my kids – it’s faster.
  5. Wizard. I love Wizard – it’s similar to Big Boss Little Boss.
  6. Set. I also have this one on my iPad. I remember playing it for the first time in high school and I  was literally undefeated until my 10 year old son, Seth, got going with it. He destroys me every time (which is why it has fallen on my list of favourite games.)

Don’t discount playing video games with your kids either. But don’t play THEIR video games – they all suck and you’ll get your butt handed to you. Pull out the old NES and Sega Genesis and teach them a few things about real videos games.

THREE: Eat together

Make sure you are eating as many meals together as possible! In fact, make a few meals together. It will create attachment like nothing else.

And don’t eat healthy. No adults bond with kids over tofu and some weird kale and quinoa salad. Deep fry stuff! In fact, have a contest to see who can create the best deep fried food.

FOUR: Read a book together

Actually this seems horribly boring. Don’t do this one.

FIVE: Do devotions together

This could be boring as well, so let the kids take the lead. Read a passage of scripture together and then share what you think it means. (I recommend Judges 3:12-30.)

Read or memorize some Psalms and then do an art project to illustrate it.

Do a scripture scavenger hunt for the most unpronounceable names.

Do a contest to see who can memorize the most verses in a week.

All this is to simple say, don’t waste the gift of time. If you are thinking, “But Thom, I work!” Yes I understand many parents have to work over spring break, but maybe leave work an hour early each day, or take a couple of vacation days. Your family is your primary work, make sure they know that!

As for me, even as you read this I’m making memories (hopefully good ones) on our family vacation! See you soon!

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Thom Dick

Associate Pastor – Southland Church

Thom has worked with children and youth for 18 years. He and his wife, Tara, have 7 kids; 4 boys, and two daughters and a SON-IN-LAW(!). The kids are spread across 23 years too so that gives him plenty of experimental material to write about! They have welcomed 31 foster children into their home over the past number of years.

2 Comments on “Engaging Your Pre-Teen and Teenager Over Spring Break”

  1. Our family enjoys listening to audiobooks together on road trips to see something. It’s amazing how quiet they can be!

  2. Thom, you are so weird. This post is hilarious!
    And dare I confess that our girls are looking forward to reading another Narnia book together this Spring Break? Don’t judge us now…!
    Thanks for the tips and the laughs. ?

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