When I was a kid, my mother only ever had one response to my whined statement.
‘Well,’ she would say, putting her face on a level with mine. ‘Go find something to do.’
It is school holiday time again and our newspapers are full of suggestions of ‘what to do with the kids these holidays’. Blog pages are dedicated to boredom-buster activities. It seems our children need to be constantly entertained or the most undesirable state in the entire world…BOREDOM…will set in.
When I was teaching, the word ‘boring‘ as in ‘Maths is boring’ was banned in my classroom. That’s because many children used the word ‘boring’ when they meant ‘difficult’ or ‘takes too long to finish’.
Early in the school year I would explain to my students that I would put every possible effort into making lessons relevant and engaging for them, but there would be times when the subject matter would be less than riveting. When these times arose, I promised to alert them so that they could concentrate really hard. That way the tedious but necessary content could be completed in the shortest possible time.
I don’t think boredom is to be avoided. To me, boredom is when your brain just doesn’t have anything to think about. Is that such a bad thing?
In my own experience of boredom, it is just the pre-cursor of imagination, day-dreaming, invention, exercise and adventure. Giving my mind to have a break allowed it to search around for new ideas.
Children need to understand that their world, at times, includes times that require patience, down-time, mind-relaxation and, yes, boredom. Being bored means your mind is resting for a minute or two.
Why must our minds be bombarded with stimulation all the time? Why can’t we let our minds rest occasionally? Can we not allow for a mental tea break? We do it for our bodies, why not for our brains? Do we, as parents, schedule our children’s lives to the point where their brains do not have enough down-time.
Maybe we should let them be bored sometimes.
What would happen if, when our kids come out with the dreaded ‘I’m bored!’, we replied ‘Well, go find something to do.’?
Maybe it would be worth a try. After all the inevitable complaining and moaning had died down, it might just be the beginning of some creativity, imagination, invention and adventure.
Hmmm – I wonder.