Thursday, June 12, 2014

This is what boredom looks like : inside the green ship

There seems to be this fear among parents during summer vacation about the wrath their children will bring while being home for a few months and getting "bored." As a homeschooling mom, my kids are always home and here's the thing... I don't care if they're bored.

It's good for kids to be bored. They actually NEED it developmentally. Kids need to be comfortable with their own self. They need to know what it's like to get lost in their thoughts without distraction or plugging in. They need to figure out how to pass the time and fulfill their own desires.  It's a critical kind of creativity that is becoming so rare.  Scheduled classes and planned play dates and set activities are ok... sometimes. But the things that little people do when they are left alone are nothing short of fabulous. Not strewing things for them to find, not setting out art supplies, not declaring it play time, just letting them be and letting them go. Free kids are powerful and brilliantly creative. Or just silly. It looks different with the big kids than with the little ones, but it works with both.

Go. Go outside, go in a different room, just go off and keep yourself busy and don't call for me unless you're bleeding or on fire.

The importance of truly free range play has been a hot topic all over the news for a few years now. Frankly, I find it scary that kids playing freely is news rather than just life. Think about that.

So I am thinking of starting a new series so to speak (assuming I stick with it, routine is not my strong point!) showing some snapshots of what the kids come up with when I leave them alone to be "bored".

Exhibit A: Green Ship Games. The Green Ship is a small corner garden in our marina. Zach named it The Green Ship when he was little after a favorite picture book by Quentin Blake. It's always been a hub for open play.

Lately he and the girls at our marina (and Naia to a certain extent) have created this whole world in there based on these three shops and a made up currency system. They spend hours making things for these shops, all out of found things from moss and rocks and sticks, to rubbish from the recycling bins. There is no boredom in there. They created it, they keep it going, they made up the boundaries and rules, they work out conflicts and solve problems. It's their work in the way that kids should be working.

It would be fun to see what other kids are up to in their boredom. Post a link here, use the tag line "This Is What Boredom Looks Like" if you feel like it, maybe I'll come up with something more organized on a certain regular intervals. But whether you post or not, whether you take photos or not... just exhale, enjoy the season, and let them be bored.

If you want to sink your teeth into this topic more, here are a few good articles talking about the importance of free play. Again, the fact that we need to study and report on this rather than just live it is very weird... but here it is.

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