27 November 2017

From the Head of Junior School

The Importance of Being Bored

The school year is almost over. With the end of the year comes hours of time that will need to be filled in our children's day. I can already hear the choruses of "What are we doing today?" "Where are we going?" "I have nothing to do!" "I'm bored!". Well I say, let them be bored...at least some of the time.

Perhaps we, as parents, feel we have a duty to fill as much of our children's' day with activities as possible. After all, if they are busy they are less like to be arguing and asking us to do more. However, there is considerable research that says a little boredom goes a long way toward benefitting a child.

Providing children with unstructured time, away from technology, can teach a number of key skills. First, it teaches children to manage their time. It allows them to explore their world and image and create. A sofa, chairs and some sheets can become a fortress, a cubby or a quiet reading space. Role play and imaginative games can develop and new adventures created.

Unstructured play develops children's physical skills; fine motor, gross motor, balance and hand-eye coordination skills. Play is key in the development of the sensory system and body awareness and also contributes to increased physical activity levels and fitness. Through play a child's cognitive skills and enhanced. They naturally engage in problem solving, planning; sequencing in their pay while developing their creativity, organisational and language skills. Play allows for social and emotional skill development. The player will experience a range of emotions, explore different roles and extend their comfort zones. They will play in a naturally inclusive manner, learn to take turns, cooperate, negotiate, problem solving, persevere and become more resilient.

So how to manage the inevitable comment "I'm bored!"? Aha! Parenting.com has some suggestions in their article entitled Handling Boredom: Why It's Good for Your Child.

First, stop what you're doing and really focus on your child for five minutes. If you use this time to connect, just chat and snuggle, your child will probably get the refueling he needs and be on his way fairly quickly.

If he doesn't pull away from you consider that maybe he needs a little more time with you. Most of the time when children are whiny and unable to focus, it's because they need more deep connection time with us. Offer to involve him in what you're doing, or take a break from your work and do something together.

Once you're confident that your child has a full "love tank," you can revisit the "what to do" question. By now, he probably has some ideas for something he'd like to go do. If not, tell him that figuring out how to enjoy his own time is his job, but you'd be happy to help him brainstorm about possible activities.

The article also contains a list 115 boredom busting activities you may want to consider or keep for a rainy day.

We need to do our best to provide our children with opportunities for unstructured play. In the busy life of children and families, being bored is ok.

Mr John Stewart
Head of Junior School