“I’m bored, Mum!”
“Dad, there is nothing for me to do!”
These simple phrases from our children have the power to grab our attention, and for most of us, the first thought that comes to mind is to help them “solve” their problem right away. We respond to our children’s boredom by filling their days with structured activities and after-school programmes, but experts say that this is counter-productive for their development – children need to learn to manage unstructured time by themselves as this skill will greatly benefit them later on in life.
“Your role as a parent is to prepare [your] 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,” says Lyn Fry, a London-based child psychologist with a focus on education. “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,” she emphasised.
Why is unstructured time so important for children?
Unstructured time offers children the opportunity to explore the world they live in and inspires creativity in them. Through this process, they learn to engage with themselves and the world as they set off to imagine, invent and create.
Having some unstructured time also encourages children to explore their interests and passions. By filling all their spare time with lessons and structured activities, they won’t be able to learn to respond to the sparks of ideas that goes through their heads, leading them to exercise their creativity by shaping a clay creature, writing a short story or song or simply observing a trail of ants in the kitchen. This inner voice plays an important role in leading us to pursue passions which bring meaning to life.
Most importantly, unstructured time also provides children the experience of deciding how to fill their days with activities that are worthwhile – and this forms the basis of time management, a skill which will greatly benefit them as they grow up as teens and adults.
At MindChamps PreSchool, children are given unstructured time after curriculum hours. Book a centre visit now to find out more!
Why do children say that they are bored?
After some minor complaining, most children eventually find something interesting to occupy their free time. Since play is a form of “work” for children, they are always happy to enjoy some form of self-directed play. It is through this experience that they learn to manage the emotions and experiences they have had.
However, some children might have a harder time than others in occupying their free time due to the following factors:
- They are used to structured time, which causes them to struggle in finding fun things to do during their free time
- Screen time is a huge part of their lives, and they are not accustomed to “looking inside” themselves for direction
- They simply need some connection time with mum and dad after a long day
So, what should you do when your children express their boredom to you? More on this plus 40 boredom-busting activities to get them out from the rut on the next page.