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An Adventurer's Guide To Boredom

Unstructured time gives kids the chance to explore their inner and outer worlds, which is where creative thinking begins. This is how they learn to engage with themselves and the world, to imagine and invent and create.
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A little boy looks tired after a lot of studying
A little boy looks tired after a lot of studying

Last night, I, along with countless millions of parents watched painfully as my 5-year-old rolled his eyes across the table. "This is the BORINGEST thing EVERRRR." I remember the idea of boredom -- briefly, as a young child. My mom, as an intellectual giant, teacher, only child and daughter of two professional artists corrected that idea quickly. "If you are bored, you just aren't trying hard enough."

Unstructured time gives kids the chance to explore their inner and outer worlds, which is where creative thinking begins. This is how they learn to engage with themselves and the world, to imagine and invent and create.

Unscheduled time gives children a chance to explore their own interests. If a child is never bored, he might miss the chance to hear the whisper of his own heart, which might lead him to build a fort in the back yard, make a monster from mud, write a poem, organize the neighborhood kids into making a movie, or simply study the ants on the sidewalk (as Einstein did for hours.) These magic moments are what make childhood so powerful -- but only when children are allowed to experience boredom.

So, as we prepare to celebrate "Anti-Boredom Month" this July, I prepared my response to him carefully.

Boredom -- what an amazing blessing. It is the portal to so many great adventures. It is a clanging cymbal of an invitation to dig deep. Find your inner creative genius. Engage in life, in the moment. There is always -- and I do mean always -- something to do. And more often than not, it is something awesome.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Make something. (a recipe, a craft, a mess)

2. Read something. (a book, a poem, a cereal box)

3. Explore something. (the sky, your neighborhood, your glove compartment)

4. Imagine something. (the future, the past, another galaxy)

5. Listen to something. (the radio, the birds, the wind in the trees)

6. Rearrange something. (organize, reorganize, reverse engineer)

7. Write something. (a letter, a note, chalk graffiti)

8. Invent something. (real or imaginary)

9. Cook something. (edible is good but not required)

10. Create something. (a song, a play, an alter ego)

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