I recently smiled as I read this viewpoint that we should ‘allow children to be bored’ to allow creativity to flourish. I am increasingly convinced that there is too much stimulation for children today, and that they should instead be allowed to let their imaginations wander. Charlotte Mason wrote a lot about this issue, remarkably in the days before ‘modern’ entertainments such as television or computer-based activities.
Over the past few weeks in particular, I’ve enjoyed watching my boys develop their creative play. One favourite activity at the moment involves climbing up a gnarled tree trunk in a nearby park. Except, few people have realised that this is in fact a pirate ship. We go on adventures across the raging seas, travelling to countries far and wide. Before we leave on our voyages, it is necessary to stock up with provisions, and in true three-year-old-boy manner, they tend to request rice, bread, bananas and lots and lots of sweets! Then, we check all our equipment, and off we go. We need to remember which trees and animals to look for in the country where we land, and we have to use all the snippets of language that we have aquired in various places. It would seem that this particular pirate ship is also capable of time-travel, since we have found ourselves in ancient Rome and ancient Egypt. From time to time, we abandon the pirate ship and head to the Viking long boat on the other side of the park (a fallen tree trunk). Occasionally, a battle takes place between the two vessels, fought with bows and arrows (sticks), and various other primitive weapons. Hours can be spent here, regardless of the weather. But to many passers by, it is simply the remains of a tree, and barely noticed.
(A huge range of topics are covered here – history, geography, drama, music, English, foreign languages, probably others also...)
This morning, we were in a playing field even closer to home. You would be amazed (although perhaps if you have been educating your children for longer than me, you may be quite familiar with these kinds of thing) at just how many activities can spring from the painted lines on a football pitch, the goal posts, a Frisbee and a football. Counting games, jumping games, acrobatics, ‘challenges’ and races, I could go on. Again, easily several hours can be spent here, without any particular equipment to hand.
(And the topics covered would include physical education, arithmetic and strategic thinking, just for starters).
I feel as though I have had less time to write on this blog lately, partly because the boys are keeping me so busy, and partly through another relocation and several interesting new projects at work. But I hope I can encourage you that a good, broad education can be provided without huge expenditure and large amounts of equipment. There IS an investment needed, but it is an investment of time, of patience, of thinking creatively, and of seizing the opportunities that present themselves every day. The children benefit greatly, and as a parent, I see a whole different side to life, a freshness and creativity. Yes, there are tricky times, and I sometimes feel tired to the bone. But every day is an adventure, for which I am greatly thankful!