"Mom, I'm boooooored!" If these words are ringing in your ears, you are probably in need of some preteen activities to keep your kids occupied. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to get kids involved in the world around them. They're at an age where they're able to do many things without direct supervision and yet, still need guidance. Here are 8 great activities to get your kids moving and thinking (and even out of your hair!):
1. Video Games
Most preteens love to play video games, so this one is a given. But make sure these video games aren't just mindless violence. There are many educational games out there that enlighten as well as entertain, and even get the kids moving, like the Wii Fit, Guitar Hero, or Beatles' Rock Band.
2. Youth Sports Programs
Youth sports programs are great ways to build confidence and self-esteem. Kids learn to be team players, become active and healthy, and even give you some free time. Check your local YMCA or community recreational center, or gymnastics and cheerleading center, for some ideas.
3. Charitable Giving
Charity begins at home, and it's important to teach your children the value of giving of their time to others. Have your preteen fill a shoebox with toys for Operation Christmas Child, or write letters to the troops. There are dozens of ways for kids to get involved in helping others.
4. Get Crafty
Get kids involved in their favorite crafts such as knitting, crochet, or scrapbooking. If these ideas are too "girly," boys can get in the crafting spirit too by making model airplanes or cars. They can also create camping kits or "survivor pouches."
5. Youth Groups
Youth groups, whether at your church or synagogue, or community groups, such as the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, are great for getting your kids involved. They interact with their peers while doing worthwhile projects for the community. It's a win-win situation.
Develop that right-brain thinking! Kids love to create artwork. Whether it's painting, drawing, photography, or even something as simple as making collages out of old magazines, it's important for kids to develop their artistic sides.
7. Snail Mail
In these days of texting and email, the simple art of letter writing is fast disappearing. Having a pen pal to write to, especially one in a foreign country, broadens your child's understanding of the world and brings back the old-fashioned delight of letter writing. Take the time to vet out a legitimate pen pal exchange, and then be prepared to buy stamps!
8. Read a Book
Make reading an integral part of life in your household. Take special trips to the library, and encourage your child to pick out new and fascinating reads. Read a chapter together every night before bed. If your kid finds a book they really love, encourage them to write a letter to the author. With these simple acts, you will foster a lifetime love of reading.
These are just a few of the wonderful activities out there to keep your preteens occupied and engaged in the world around them. Keep this list nearby, and you are sure to keep boredom at bay.
Sarah Baker is a documentary filmmaker and writer currently living in New Bern, NC. Her first book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, will be published December 2009. Read more about her.