Out of boredom comes creativity.
Like many of my generation, I have experienced this first hand but also have observed it vicariously through children, as a teacher and as a parent and I feel fortunate to have discovered this years ago. Not only did I not allow the words "I'm bored" uttered in my presence but when sensing the feelings from my children, sent them out to be physical. Sometimes I joined them but more often than not, I let them be...
As a parent I choose NOT to fill up my children's schedules so that they have little time at home creating their own schedule. Sure I have involved them in organized activities in order to introduce them to things that might strike a chord in them, help them to see that they have particular gifts and talents that can be offered for the greater good in their lives and to help teach them about how to be in community. But... not so much so that they are unable to make creative choices when they are all alone at home with oodles of time - like during the summer. Until this year, when at the request of my teens, the television did not come on for them during the school week and on weekends it was limited. Yes they have gaming devices but the hand held ones were restricted to vehicle use and the Wii is just a sometime thing that I have been fortunate not to have to regulate.
What I do have are four treehouses in the yard, three of them built by Max and Jillian, a trampoline, tire swing, trapeze, cement pad with basketball net, scrap lumber and metal heap, a shed with tools, a paintball course built by my 15 year old, bikes, hoses hooked up to a creek and a dugout for what would seem unlimited water, and this year we will add a slackline. We have had a zipline built by my son and his friend, a variety of BMX courses, again built by Max as well as a tightrope. And I am privileged to live in a community where this is a typical yard. By now you may have gathered that I live rurally. However, I would hope that living in the city wouldn't change how I have parented but that I would look to different opportunities for them to envelop the gift of creativity as well as the gift of relying on oneself for motivation.
Two treehouses connected by rope swing...
How does a parent go about instilling this in children?
- by resisting the desire to fill up a child's schedule.
- by resisting the desire to offer suggestions when they seem bored - instead let them know that you have great faith in them that they will be able to fill their time with constructive activities and that you can hardly wait to hear all about their endeavors and adventures.
- daydream with them. (I learned this from Max when he was in grade one and a wise health care professional expounded with, "He's got the gift of daydreaming!")
- ask them for their game plan for the summer. It doesn't mean that they have to meet every goal but just to have some set out. (Once again, I learned this from my son who is a goal-setter and sets one surrounding his athletics, music and school.)
- model the behaviour that you want to see - determine what your own summer goals are?
Above all else, as Garvin states, "kids need to be kids while they're kids", summer is about being wild and free, creative and... mostly barefoot.
Thanks to my friend Linda Garvin for her continual teachings...