I was in bed till 10 reading the Family section of Saturday’s Guardian (it’s Tuesday – isn’t that what holidays are for?) and came across an article about the various extra curricular activities some children participate in. It was so exhausting I stayed prostrate just a while longer.

Phoebe, Miles, Thea, Rosie, Will, Griselda, Tarquin, Sam, Luke et al (I made some of these up) do Brownies, cricket, athletics, riding, tennis, piano, French Horn, hockey, extra maths …

One is quoted: Once I just wanted to relax at home so I pretended that I’d hurt myself. 

It’s wonderful that kids have opportunities to exercise and play and extend themselves physically and artistically but I wonder whether a bit of boredom is not a bad thing too. Many successful authors, for example, describe great stretches of time in which they ‘did nothing’ during their childhoods. This surely was an occasion for reflection, incubation of ideas, processing experiences that allowed them to become writers.

Kids need time to mess around, with friends or alone. Constant stimulation whether electronically or in frenetic organised activities may mean that they don’t learn to be content with their own company, don’t discover the joys of being immersed in a thought, perhaps don’t use their imaginations. We need to give our children the chance to escape from the trivial thoughts of everyday living, to think unguided by the world.

William Penn echoed Aristotle’s thought about rest:

True silence .. is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.

I think I’ll go and lie down again.

 

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