In Praise of Boredom

We have become a generation of parents who put more effort into ‘parenting’ than any before us. We drive our children from one activity to the next without complaining. And they are all terrific, these activities. Chances are we had nowhere near the varied opportunities when we were young. Now the activities are called off, for a while. But new opportunities arise.

The chance for a child to slow down and view the world from the top of a tree is equally important. The perspective is altogether different from up there! 

Teachers are working overtime right now, thinking up creative ways to keep delivering education to our children stuck at home. We have a chance to recalibrate. What else can we all learn? Is there a pocket of downtime where our kids can do some internal (and socially distant external) free-ranging?

Let children tinker, explore, and get bored, and then find their own ways not to be bored. Let them have their own private reasons for doing things.

Children act with important purpose when they are left alone. They don’t always need critique.

Many of us are hoping for a shift in our societal thinking, following this time of shutdown. Let’s look to our children too. Can they rediscover their quiet place, and from it perhaps a new joy – in drawing or storytelling, ants or snails or autumn leaves. Or singing from tree tops. And while we’re at it, when was the last time you or I surveyed the world from the top of a tree?

Alison Binks is a Melbourne writer and illustrator whose most recent picture book, THE ARTIST, was released on 1 March 2020.

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