Productive Boredom Fosters Creativity

“… For all children, having moments of boredom is a good thing. It allows children time to simply float along, daydream or imagine. Boredom is useful in that it compels children to invent, to switch gears, to think of something new and to learn to enjoy their own company.”

Judith Pack, an early childhood education consultant with 25 years of teaching experience, makes the case for allowing children time and space to experience boredom. In her piece, “Making Time for Boredom,” Pack outlines the criteria she finds to be the most crucial to evaluating an environment’s ability to stimulate a productive form of boredom in children:

  • Are children engaged in things that are interesting to them?
  • Are they mostly deeply involved in their play?
  • Do they feel that they belong and are treated kindly?
  • Do they have adventures and challenges to pursue?

According to Pack, an environment that fulfills these criteria will produce the kind of boredom in children that we should value, as it promotes innovation without interfering with a child’s pleasure or learning experience.

Pack also warns against the tendency for teachers and parents to over-schedule and infuse a child’s experience with too much structure in an effort to avoid boredom. This oftentimes has the opposite effect, leaving children without the space to “invent new paths to play and learning.” She examines the cultural phenomena that might have influenced our attitudes about boredom.

“Perhaps, today, there is a tendency for adults to believe they must alleviate a child’s boredom, compared to a time when parents did not feel it was their responsibility,” Pack says. “A parent of 30 years ago might say, ‘You’re bored? Figure out something to do!’”

This attitudinal shift, according to Pack,  has stemmed from the over-structuring of children’s lives, the under-emphasis of play, the desire to entertain, stimulation from technology and anxiety surrounding the idea of “doing nothing.”

We share this piece with you today to offer a fresh perspective on the importance of boredom in childhood development. Even adults could use a few moments of boredom to make time for creativity.

Read the full article here:

Authored by Cassy Gibson, Community Bridges Intern, Rice University School Literacy and Culture


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