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Children Develop Better When You Let Them Be Bored, Psychologists Say

Children Develop Better When You Let Them Be Bored, Psychologists Say

Boredom in children is common and something that every parent, teacher and sane adult wants to avoid. We’ve all heard the old saying: “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” So we expend time, energy, and lots of cash trying to ensure that our child’s mind doesn’t become the devil’s place of business.

But research shows that constructive boredom in children is essential to their mental and emotional development. However, kids need the guidance of parents or other adults if their boredom is to be constructive and lead to creativity.

Researchers Karen Gasper and Brianna Middlewood, of Pennsylvania State University, found that constructively bored individuals seek out and engage in satisfying activities—much like happy people do. In an interview with Fast Company, Gasper says:

“Boredom operates similarly to feeling happy or excited. It results in you trying to approach something that, in this case, is more meaningful or interesting. It encourages people to explore because it signals that your current situation is lacking so it’s kind of a push to seek out something new.”

Benefits of boredom in children:

Boredom fosters creativity

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Creative Kids

    Researchers all agree that the number one-benefit of children experiencing periods of boredom is that it develops their innate ability to be creative.

    Dr. Teresa Belton, visiting fellow at the University of East Anglia, focuses on the connection between boredom and imagination. She told the BBC that boredom is crucial for developing “internal stimulus,” which then allows true creativity.

    Operating under the notion that children should be constantly active could hamper the development of their imagination.

    The popular belief that boredom is bad and potentially detrimental is the result of numerous past studies which reported that people with “boredom proneness” lack excitement and are easily frustrated. But recent research finds that being bored promotes creative association and pushes one to find deeper meaning and satisfaction.

    It’s also important to remember that there’s a big difference between a negatively numbed brain and a constructively bored mind. Constructive boredom stimulates creativity. Constructively bored kids eventually turn to a book, or build a fort, or pull out the paints (or the computer art program) and create.

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    Boredom helps develop a sense of identity

    Child Identity

      Psychologists and child development experts suggest that over-scheduling children is unnecessary and could ultimately keep kids from discovering what truly interests them. In an interview with Quatrz, child psychologist Lyn Fry said:

      “Your role as a parent is to prepare children to take their place in society. Being an adult means occupying yourself and filling up your leisure time in a way that will make you happy. If parents spend all their time filling up their child’s spare time, then the child’s never going to learn to do this for themselves.”

      Lack of things to do can spur kids to engage in and try activities they would not, under other circumstances, have experienced, such as learning a craft or to bake cakes or to engage in an interesting DIY project.

      So the kids are complaining that they are bored and you don’t want to over-schedule them or fill their time with activities you’ve chosen; but you have the type of kids who shouldn’t be left completely to their own creative devices?

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      Here are some ways experts say can help you create a nurturing environment for constructively bored kids:

      Child playing outside

        1. Create a list of things to do

        Sit down with your child and help them brainstorm a list of all the things they enjoy doing. These can be basic activities such as playing cards, reading a book, or going for a bicycle ride. They could also be more elaborate ideas such as cooking a fancy dinner, putting on a play, or practicing photography. When your child complains of boredom, have them look at the list and find something they would like to do. Just make sure you don’t pick for them.

        2. Have designated play areas designed specifically for kids

        When kids are in a play environment created for them, they are more likely to create their own games when they get bored. These areas could be inside or outdoors.

        3. Periodically structure some unstructured time for kids

        Unstructured or “free” time is a great way to ensure that you are building in time for children to entertain themselves and engage in activities that they choose.

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        4. Encourage outdoor play, especially in a nature setting

        Research shows that when children play in natural play spaces, they’re far more likely to invent their own games than in more structured settings — a key factor in becoming self-directed and inventive both as children and later in life.

        Photo Credit: Creative Kids

        Featured photo credit: John Morgan on Flickr via flickr.com

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        Published on November 7, 2018

        How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

        How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

        In 2016, it was estimated that 1.7 million children were being homeschooled in the U.S, roughly 3.3% of all school-aged children.[1] Although this may not sound like a big portion of the population, the growth rate of homeschooling has been 7 to15% per year for the last two decades.

        The burgeoning numbers are not a coincidence. There are tremendous benefits to homeschooling, including one-on-one teaching, adaptability to individual needs and learning styles, a safe learning environment, encouraging learning for knowledge rather than grades, and tailoring a curriculum to the child’s interests.

        Is homeschooling something that you have been considering for your family? With all of the tools and resources available for homeschoolers in the 21st century, it may be easier than you think.

        How to Homeschool (Getting Started)

        After thinking it through, you’ve decided that homeschooling is the right step for you and your family. Now what? Here are the first things you should do to get your homeschooling journey started on the right track.

        Figure Out the Laws

        Homeschooling is regulated by the state, not the federal government. The first step is to find the current and accurate legal requirements mandated by your state in order to educate your child legally.[2]

        The regulations can vary widely, from strict guidelines to no guidelines at all. However, don’t be overwhelmed by the legal jargon. There are many resources and local communities for homeschooling families that can help you figure out the logistics.

        Decide on an Approach

        Every child’s needs are different. This is your chance to choose the homeschooling style or combination of styles that best fits your child’s learning style and interests. A brief description of seven different homeschooling methods are listed below.

        Supplies/Resources

        Often times, purchasing a homeschooling curriculum is done too early in the planning process, resulting in buyer’s remorse.

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        A curriculum is not always needed for homeschooling, and other types of free or less structured resources are readily available.

        Find a Community

        Getting connected with a community of homeschoolers is one of the most important parts of building a successful and thriving homeschool environment for your kids.

        Look for communities online for virtual support or a local group that you and your kids can interact with. Partnering with others fosters better socialization skills for the students and provides opportunities for field trips, classes, and outings that wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of the homeschooling experience.

        7 Different Homeschooling Methods

        1. School-At-Home

        Also known as Traditional homeschool, School-At-Home uses essentially the same curriculum as the local private or public school but at home.

        The lessons can be completed independently, but more commonly, they are administered by a parent or a teacher-facilitated online school.

        • Benefits: formal standards, wide selection of curricula, same pace as peers, short-term friendly
        • Drawbacks: expensive, inflexible, time consuming, parent can get easily burnt out
        • Resources: K12, Time4Learning, Abeka

        2. Classical

        One of the most popular homeschooling methods used, it borrows educational practices from Ancient Greece and Rome. Subject areas are studied chronologically so that students can understand the consequence of ideas over time.

        Socratic dialogue fosters effective discussions and debate to achieve beyond mere comprehension. There is often a strong emphasis on Great Books[3] as well as Greek and Latin.

        3. Unit Studies

        Rather than breaking up education into subjects, unit studies approach each topic as a whole, studying it from the perspective of each subject area.

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        For example, a unit study about animals could include reading books about animals, learning about the classification of animals, figuring out which animals live on which continents, etc. This method is often used as a technique in other more comprehensive educational methodologies.

        • Benefits: promotes thinking about concepts as a whole, not monotonous or redundant, student-directed, bolsters weaker subject areas, beneficial for teaching multi-age students
        • Drawbacks: incomplete, knowledge gaps, curriculum-dependent
        • Resources: Unit Study, Unit Studies, Unit Studies Made Easy, Konos

        4. Charlotte Mason

        This Christian homeschooling style utilizes shorts periods of study (15-20 minute max for elementary, 45 minute max for high school), along with nature walks and history portfolios.

        Students are encouraged to practice observation, memorization, and narration often. With a focus on “living books” (stories with heroes, life lessons, socio-ethical implications), reading plays a big role in this student-paced teaching style.

        5. Montessori

        Maria Montessori developed this method through working with special needs children in the early 20th century.

        With a primary focus on the student setting the pace and indirect instruction from the teacher, this approach includes free movement, large unstructured time blocks (up to 3 hours), multi-grade classes, and individualized learning plans based on interests.

        6. Unschooling

        Unschooling is a learning model largely based on the work of John Holt.[4] The teaching style focuses mainly on the students’ interests, putting priority on experiential, activity-based, and learn as you go approaches.

        For basic skills such as reading, writing, and math, a systematic technique is employed, but testing and evaluations are typically not utilized. Teachers, in general, play more of a facilitator role.

        7. Eclectic/Relaxed

        As the most popular method of homeschool, eclectic homeschooling is child-directed, resourceful, and non-curriculum based.

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        Parents can sample any combination of homeschooling methods and styles or resources. One growing sector of eclectic homeschooling combines part homeschooling with part traditional schooling.

        How to Facilitate Homeschooling with Technology

        One of the reasons homeschooling is more feasible than ever before is due to the accessibility of tools and resources to enhance the learning process.

        Email

        Email is a tool that has really stood the test of time. Invented in 1972, it is still used today as a primary means of communicating on the Internet.

        It is a great way to share assignments, links, and videos between parent and student.

        Google Drive/Calendar

        Google Drive offers a multitude of essential programs that can come in handy for homeschoolers, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

        With its sharing capabilities, easy accessibility, and auto-save ability, it’s easier than ever to organize and complete assignments. It will improve students’ writing and typing skills, as well as eliminate the need for paper.

        Google Calendar is an excellent tool for tracking assignment due dates, planning field trips and activities, and developing time management skills.

        Ebooks

        Rather than invest in physical copies of books, ebooks are a wonderful option for saving money and space. There are plenty of places that offer a free or paid subscription to a wide selection of ebooks:

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        E-Courses

        When a structured curriculum is necessary for teaching a certain topic, an e-course is the way to go.

        From watercolors to calculus, there are e-courses available about almost everything. Including different teaching styles that vary from the parents will encourage students to learn in different ways.

        The visual and auditory stimulation will also be beneficial in helping students understand and retain the concepts being taught.

        Some recommendations:

        Youtube

        Youtube is not just a platform for music videos and cats doing funny things. There are a number of Youtube channels that produce quality educational videos, free of charge.

        Creating a playlist of videos for various topics is a great way to supplement a homeschool education.

        Some recommendations:

        Final Thoughts

        Homeschooling in the current age looks much different than it did ten years ago. There are more options and more flexibility when it comes to educating kids at home.

        Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of homeschooling your children if it could make a positive impact on your family.

        Featured photo credit: Hal Gatewood via unsplash.com

        Reference

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