by, Kylen Glassman
It’s that time of year again – winter has come and gone and another Minnesota spring is upon us. This inevitably means that spring fever is setting in and thoughts of the future are clouding my brain! The itch to think ahead and immediately jump into the next thing is ever present. I almost find myself wishing away time – I’m anxious and excited for summer sunshine and new projects. It also means the end of the school year, which is jam-packed with activities, conferences, and limited time to spend with our students, many of whom will be off to new adventures next year.
To say the least, I am finding it tricky to stay in the moment, and I’m not the only one. The children are feeling the spring itch, and it translates into the classroom. Things that used to be engaging for most kids, making popcorn or playdough for example, don’t have the same appeal they once did. Some children are also nearing the end of their second or third year of preschool, and as much as I may not want to admit it, they’re ready for a change! Dare I even say it – they’re bored! This has got me thinking, what does it mean to be bored, and is boredom a bad thing?
To piggy-back off of Jenny’s most recent blog, we live in a an age where screens and immediate gratification dominate our lives. We’ve become so accustomed to having everything at our fingertips. I am as guilty of this as the next person; we don’t know how to handle moments of boredom. If our brain isn’t experiencing continuous stimulation, we feel uncomfortable. But, feeling bored has led to my most creative moments! The same can be said for children, and nature-based play is the perfect example of this. When children are put into a less-structured environment with open-ended materials, they have the opportunity to use their creativity and imagination. Imagination is vital to play, and play is “the work of childhood,” as beautifully stated by Fred Rogers.
While we strive to keep children engaged, interested, and learning, it is also just as important, to help them problem solve and make discoveries on their own. We should not be afraid of our kids feeling bored at times – this is good for developing brains. We all need to struggle, make mistakes, and grapple with feelings of discomfort in order to be comfortable trying new things, taking risks, and getting creative!
As our school year comes to a close and you’re feeling overwhelmed with end of the year to-do list, summer plans, and whatever else might by clouding your brain, remember to slow down and value the present. During a time of transition, struggling with the uncertainty of what comes next is normal. We don’t need to rescue children every moment. Challenge your child to look for new ways to play and tackle problems. All the while, know that we are there with you, continuing to scaffold popcorn-making into a deeper lesson about counting to help your child get ready for the next thing. Big changes are around the corner; we will get there and it will be glorious! For now, let’s enjoy our time together and embrace the process!