Boredom and unstructured time promotes healthy development by letting kids explore their imaginations. Here’s how to get started
Unstructured time promotes healthy development by letting kids explore their imaginations
As a parent, hearing the dreaded phrase, “I’m bored!” one more time may make you want to pull your hair out. And I totally get it!
While it’s fine to allow kids screen time in moderation as a way to cure boredom (and give you some peace), there are surprisingly many benefits to being bored! According to Dr. Joe Austerman, a child psychiatrist at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, being bored is actually good for a child’s brain because it gives them “space to be creative, learn new skills [and] learn different ideas” which “helps their mind develop and grow.” Boredom’s not sounding so bad now, right?
Not sure how to get started? Here are some of my fave techniques for helping kids explore their little creative minds, and why a bit of boredom is actually a good thing:
Importance of Pretend Play
Imaginative play is so beneficial for growing minds. According to Scholastic, pretending builds social, emotional, language and thinking skills. As children act out stories or situations, they develop communication and thinking strategies while learning about the world around them. Pretend play gives children a chance to work through concepts they don’t fully understand, such as losing, forgiveness and trust. Can you believe kids can learn all these amazing lessons from being bored?!
It’s also key to inspiring ingenuity in children, so letting the kiddos be bored every once and a while is actually doing them a favor!
Ways to Inspire Pretend Play
Give Them The Tools
To help spark your child’s imagination, you have to first let them be bored. Then, give them miniature figures and cars or a collection of odds and ends such as buttons, shells and scraps of fabric. Not only is this a low-cost twist on playtime, but you’ll be amazed at how easily they can create worlds in their minds!
From vocabulary and life lessons to new cultures and ideas, books teach children so much and reading is one of the most powerful tools in the world. Reading to, and with, your child will help them find new worlds which can inspire their own pretend play, while also teaching them along the way. Plus, you get to spend quality time with the special little love in your life. It’s a total win-win!
Nothing like a craft box to let a child’s imagination run wild. Give them a few pieces of construction paper and some crayons and encourage them to create their own storybook or puppet. If you’re playing with multiple kids, have them all create their own artwork and then tape each piece together to create one beautiful mural. They’ll be so proud to have their work on display!
Act It Out
Before getting rid of any old clothes or household items, give them to your kids for costumes. You never know what kids will be able to come up with—a stack of old books might just turn into the captain’s chair in the first man-operated spacecraft to Mars.
Changing up the scenery is another great way to get the creative juices flowing. Try taking playtime out to the sandbox, under a blanket fort and or up a treehouse. Head out to the backyard or a local park––just being in an open setting encourages kids to take up space and get active! This is a great chance for them to develop new versions of tag or hide and seek with their friends (and hopefully burn off some energy so bedtime is smooth sailing).
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