In my chosen profession, I work with kids everyday. My particular group is a class of third graders. This is my tenth year teaching the same age group, and I’ve noticed something with increasing regularity.
Kids don’t know how to be bored.
I’m not talking about valid times where boredom can be expected, like when the principal is giving a lecture about hallway rules. I’m talking about the five minutes these kids might have after completing one task but before beginning the next.
The conversation goes something like this:
Kid: I’m done. What can I do now?
Me: What are your choices of things to do when you finish something?
Kid: Read, work on old work, or write something.
Me: Good. so what’s your choice?
Kid: (insert long pause here) um…can I have my snack now?
This conversations happens daily, often with the same kids. The choices never change. They always ask if they can eat (which is why I posted the meme above and graph below). I think the actual effort involved in deciding what to do with oneself during downtime is just too much for them, because, well, they don’t know how to make such a decision in the absence of outside entertainment.
Think about it.
Entertainment, or even just visual stimulation, is everywhere. According to unplugyourkids.com
, 43% of American kids age 4-6 have TVs in their rooms. I’m sure the percentage for my students’ age group must be higher. And that’s just the beginning. There are computer games, mp3 players, electronic tablets, personal video game systems, and phones that do more than the computers that put man on the moon. And all of these things are portable. I wonder, how many kids have experienced staring out a window just considering their thoughts?
I think I’ll add a fourth choice for my students when they finish work. Just sit and think. About anything. I promise, it won’t hurt. Additionally, I highly encourage parents to let their kids experience boredom. They might be obnoxious at first because it will be unfamiliar, but I think you’ll find more original thought processes and overall happier kids.