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Sunday, October 30, 2016

It's OK for Kids to Be Bored

Yikes! I can't believe I just wrote that title for a blog post...taboo, right?

This video popped up on one of my social media feeds this morning and it piqued my interest...I felt a connection.

I have noticed a phenomenon in my classroom over the past few years and it has been particularly profound this year. I've observed a noticeable number of students who require constant stimulation to stay engaged in a lesson or learning activity. They are unable to sit patiently for the number of seconds it takes for me to turn, grab a marker and record an idea on the board, or, for the amount of time it takes me to grab supplies from the other side of the room. They have great difficulty waiting their turn to speak or taking turns in games or activities. It seems every second needs to be filled with entertainment. They seem unable to sit for a moment and think their own thoughts or reflect on an idea. Often, they finish tasks quickly, with limited regard to quality and they produce work that is lacking in depth of thinking, immediately reporting, 'I'm done!" and asking what they can do next.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately and talking to colleagues and friends about my observations. I've been wondering why this change has occurred over the past few years.  I've puzzled over how to help students become more able to tolerate the briefest delays without jumping off task or becoming annoyed or anxious, doubling up on my efforts to design interesting and engaging work.
Comments about attention disorders come up in the conversations I have with other adults fairly regularly. I do not think that is it. I believe that the causes of attention disorders are complex in nature and while ADHD does trouble school age children, it doesn't look like what I'm seeing and it does not occur in the numbers I'm seeing.
Screen time is also sited frequently. The pros and cons of devices in the hands of children is a blogpost for another time but I do believe:
  • There are digital resources that promote creativity, collaboration and higher order thinking. 
  • Screen time should be limited and monitored.
  • Kids need social interaction...with real, live people.
  • Immediate feedback isn't always best. Time to reflect is important.
  • And... everything in moderation.

I do not write this blog post because I have found the answer:) However, I did come across an article published by the World Economic Forum that left me saying, "Yes, yes!"

Follow this link to read the article.
Being bored is good for children -and adults. This is why.

Researcher and Author Teresa Belton states in her article...

"...children need time to themselves – to switch off from the bombardment of the outside world, to daydream, pursue their own thoughts and occupations, and discover personal interests and gifts."

"’s good for children to be helped to learn to enjoy just pottering – and not to grow up with the expectation that they should be constantly on the go or entertained."

"...filling a child’s time for them teaches nothing but dependence on external stimulus, whether material possessions or entertainment."

While Belton was referring to parenting in her article, I'm contemplating how these ideas translate into the classroom. I am encouraged that the phenomenon that I am observing in my classroom reaches beyond my four walls - I am not alone - and that people smarter than me are researching and offering solutions.