Story at a glance
1. Extracurricular activities may be depriving your children of using their innate imagination and intelligence.
2. Psychologists are suggesting that over scheduling kids is unnecessary and ultimately a disservice to them.
3. Boredom is crucial for developing internal stimulus, which then allows for true creativity.
It’s probably the catch cry of the school holidays, not to mention the weekends and anytime after school that your kids are not booked into some sort of extracurricular class. Particularly in our middle class world, there’s a propensity towards over committing our children to a rigorous engagement of activities. There’s the drama classes, the chess team, the sports team, the karate classes, the piano lessons, the art classes, ballet, jazz, saxophone lessons, cooking classes, tennis camps… the list is endless.
But as it turns out, all these extracurricular activities may be depriving your children of using their innate imagination and intelligence.
Turns out, being bored is the first step to accessing these gifts in the brain.
Psychologist and child development experts are suggesting that over scheduling kids is unnecessary and ultimately a disservice to them.
But how can being bored be a good thing?
Dr Teresa Belton, senior researcher at the University of East Anglia’s School of Education, says that boredom is crucial for developing internal stimulus, which then allows for true creativity.
“Children should be allowed to get bored so they can develop their innate ability to be creative,” she says.
Your child will no doubt struggle with the lack of provided stimulus, but if you can make your way through them moping around for an hour or so, you’ll be surprised to see the ideas they start to generate. Everything from self -directed play, to drawing and reading. With the time to sit in the space of nothing you are teaching your child a life skill. Being bored can be an uncomfortable feeling until you move through it and into the realm of refection and inspiration.
Lyn Fry, a child psychologist from London, says, “There’s no problem with being bored. I think children need to learn how to be bored in order to motivate themselves to get things done. Being bored is a way to make children self reliant.”
But it’s not just good for kids. That quiet reflective time can be very therapeutic and inspiring for adults as well. Many artists find their next subject through the very act of being bored, alone with nothing to do. Writers start to write. Musicians write songs. By not scheduling your life with activities you have time to quieten your mind and think. You have time to reflect. You have time to wonder about your life, your relationships and your space in it. And moreover, you have time to create.
So turn off the television, put down your phone, and resist the urge to schedule in yet another activity… and just… sit.
See what you come up with.
You might just surprise yourself.