Let Them Get Bored

 

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It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of using your imagination. I mean, let’s face it, I’ll have a go at making anything, I love drawing and painting, reading novels and creative writing. For as long as I can remember these have been pastimes that I have always enjoyed. They are also something I would like to pass on to my children.

So then, how do we go about fostering creativity in our children? How do we encourage them to use their imaginations and find creative ways to occupy their time?

The easy answer is that we let them get bored.

Now I realise that that might sound crazy to other mums. I’m currently one week into a three week school holiday period and Master 6 has already informed me that he would rather be at school because it’s boring at home with me. I could have taken this personally but my son, who has only started school this year, is now used to the structured learning and routine of education, and holidays are about escaping from that.

Generally speaking, our children are living in a world that values entertainment. Television, movies, music and games are all created to feed the habit of stimulation. It’s almost as though our world no longer values silence. But silence is the playground of our imaginations. If you turn off the background noise (television, Wiis and so on) your children are forced to find something to occupy themselves with and they might actually enjoy it.

Our parents’ generation, and especially our grandparents’ generation, did not have the access to the plethora of toys and other entertainment that we do today. They made up their own games and activities with whatever they had. And they had happy childhoods.

It might start out hard at first, especially if your children are used to being entertained but eventually your children will have learned a valuable skill.

In our household, for instance: Master 6 he generally chooses something like Lego where he constructs machines of his own designs; sanguine Miss 4 draws, paints, plays play dough, makes up her own dances and makes loom bands bracelets (all within an hour) and little Miss 2 plays mummies and babies or builds block towers. Other favourite activities for unstructured play involve dress ups and beading with large wooden beads.

Yesterday our three eldest children arranged our garden chairs and quite a few of their sandpit toys to make a ‘festival’ to which I was invited. They often play good guys and ‘naughty’ guys and draw pictures so frequently that I have to regularly clean out our basket of artworks. With a sound knowledge of key words and an interest in reading Master 6 has attempted his own short stories, creating both the text and the pictures and the list goes on.

This does not mean, however, that might children can easily resist the technological forms of entertainment that surround us. They love to watch DVDs and a visit to their Nana’s house generally means playing kids apps on her iPad. But it goes without saying that this is limited to a certain duration for the whole day.

Unstructured play and experimentation, especially the messy kind, are important to helping your children develop their imagination and creativity. Aim for half an hour every couple of days and increase from there.

Tips for fostering creativity:

  • Turn off the TV, iPad and Wii
  • Reduce the number of toys your children have access too
  • Hide the instructions (Lego, Duplo etc) and resist the urge to do things ‘by the book’
  • Keep a handy supply of paper, glue, pencils and scissors. (Other craft items worth keeping on hand are straws, toilet paper rolls, string)
  • Let your children experiment
  • Encourage birthday or Christmas gifts to be of a creative nature like dress up clothes or craft items

 

 

Filed Under: Family LifeHome ActitivitesKids Craft

About the Author: Emily is a former ACPA award winning editor and journalist turned stay at home mum and blogger. She lives on a farm in regional NSW with her husband and their five children where she spends the time she should be doing housework reading books and writing posts.

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