Some people treat boredom like it’s a bad thing. I disagree. I think boredom is a natural part of life and since I want my kids to grow up in the “real world”, I allow for boredom to happen. Eventually, they will get jobs and homes of their own and things won’t always be fast, stimulating and scheduled. Even the best of jobs have boring elements to them and the last thing I want is for my kids to move out and not know how to handle down time. So I don’t schedule every minute of their day. We’ve done some things together this March Break but I’ve also left them to their own devices for vast periods of time. They like to watch T.V. and play on the computer but eventually even those get boring and they move on to other things. My boys know better than to come to me whining that they are bored. I always have a list of jobs around the house for kids that don’t know what to do with themselves. Instead the boys have learned to entertain themselves.
I thought this paragraph, written by Cynthia Reynolds, a homeschooler of a large family, summed things up quite nicely.
“Kids need control over their own play,” says Jane Hewes, chair of the early childhood development program at Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton. “We have to give them room.” And part of that is room to be bored – more and more child experts say boredom is a key mental state that eventually launches innovative and flexible thinking, creativity and an intrinsic motivation to explore. But well-intentioned parents rushing to fill that void are mucking up this time-honoured process, and in the place of dynamic, self-reliant youth are creating a strange new generation of young adults who are lost without outside direction, feel entitled to be entertained by others, are unable to tolerate basic silence and crave a constant stream of stimulation. If that doesn’t scare you, consider this: these are the kids who won’t just hang around their parents’ house until they’re 35, these are kids who will never ever leave.”
Here’s the proof that kids can get creative when they’re bored. This is what D and P built one morning when they had nothing to do:
It started out as a domino tower and then got cards added on to it.
It was an impressive height!
A base of cards was constructed next.
Then some impressive card circles.
The guys literally worked on this for hours. It doesn’t serve any purpose but it did require thinking and planning, experimentation and collaboration – all good life skills. It was great to hear them excitedly say, “Mom, Mom, come down and see it now.” I also got the magic words that I love to hear: “You can take pictures, Mom, and put this on the blog.” The boys were proud of their accomplishment and happily entertained, all because I didn’t plan anything for them and just let them be. So, yes. I’ll say it – “Yay! The boys got bored!”